Hi - this us for all the copper artists out there...(hi Cynthia
Eid!!!) I recently have had 2 pieces "returned" to me by customers
b/c their Fingers turned green under the setting.
Claim of "fake" "allergic" "ripoff" were thrown about, How do you
folks that routing make copper jewelry handle this ridiculousness?
Huge disclaimers at shows/websites? Many many many costs of lacquer?
How do you handle the in-your-face nastiness from people that don't
understand the basic concept that we learned back I the second grade
about metals and why certain metal turn skin green? Are customers
THAT stupide (Don't answer that-I think I know).
Lori, in 40 years, I have never had my rings (or other copper
jewelry) returned for this reason. I do try to let customers know
what to expect. I patina most of my rings with Jax Black, removing
most but not all of the patina on the inside of the ring. What's
left helps prevent at least some of the discoloration. I also
suggest that wearing the ring on washing occasions (e. g., doing the
dishes, taking a shower) cuts down on skin discoloration. And I add
that skin "chemistry" differs with individuals. I never lacquer any
jewelry because it will inevitably peel off and be a mess to remove
Hang in there! Copper is a beautiful metal.
I just explain while presenting to the potential buyer that all
copper can react with skin chemicals. Oh, and for further, my wife
reacts with Sterling silver that has been alloyed with copper.
I don't make copper jewelry for that exact reason. It may be cheap
to work in but the draw backs are not worth it. There are a few
exceptions to that. You will find people who swear a copper bracelet
will cure their arthritis.
The coatings I tell people about for my copper ornaments are many
and varied. I make thousands of ornaments a year. In old times before
modern coatings, bee's wax was rubbed in and polished to a nice
shine. Today the cheapest and easiest to get is hair spray. But sadly
the hairspray will flake of after one usage if used as jewelry. Next
is the kiln fired micro ceramics. To expensive for me to get into,
since I'm a one person shop.
You can buy the dip like coatings from places like Rio and a few
Last there is the spray Krylon gloss acrylic. It too will eventually
What you have to worry about is no matter what you tell the people,
they will tell you they have an allergy to copper, and in some
instances will the turning of their skin green to prove they molded.
(yes it has happened). I tell everyone that the ornaments are not
intended for personal jewelry usage. Yet to this day I'm still
wondering. One man dressed in goth attire, came up and bought three
ornaments. He disappeared for about 20 minutes then came back wearing
one in his ear. The other he showed me was in his belly button. I
asked about the third, and he just smiled.
One of the biggest laughs is when I tell people the best copper
cleaner is ketchup. They need to tell the folks at McDonalds they
want copper cleaner with their fries.
If you continue to make jewelry in copper, be aware there is nothing
you can do that will please even half of the customers you get. They
will not like the tarnish of copper and the green skin. Then the
coatings themselves will be more of an irritant. Earrings with silver
ear wires are your best bet. It's just a nightmare that you don't
need. Silver is more expensive by far, but you will not encounter the
problems or have it returned for turning the skin green.
Aggie Wondering how the mountain top got to 100F last night.
I plate my pieces with Legor's nano ceramic electro plating.
prevents the problem..
A really good lacquer (PermaLac) would be your best bet.
Different folks equal different body/skin chemistries. Copper on
some is fine, on many/most it create trees copper salts. Many coats
of clear coat can help but this too will wear off or peel. There is
a product, a clear catalyzed urethane by POR 15
that is TERRIFICALLY strong and takes abrasion VERY WELL. It is used
on bright polished fittings on boats/yachts/ships and other fields,
to keep bright metal from tarnishing yet still allows the metal
"what ever it is" to be used without allowing the polished metal to
tarnish. One coat should do it as it is thicker than most coatings
and it is the toughest coating I have ever dealt with when I had to
remove some from a gate. Just a thought.
Usually I put some advice in advance to customer about it, telling
them it depends on many factor such as skin Ph and humidity
condition and specifying that with some lemon juice the jewel is
shortly back to his shiny aspect... ;)
They can ignore, but as far as we know that it can be a nasty
surprise for them have to make them aware.
I make cuff bracelets in Cu. My own Cu cuff is on my wrist and I
show the customer how my skin has become green due to sweat. I then
point out that the green scrubs off when I wash. It is important to
talk about how Cu patinasnaturally and how the patina varies. I
commonly wear my Cu cuff all the time - while gardening, showering,
washing dishes, etc. IOW I never take off for weeks at a time. Some
people are not concerned with the patinas and skinbeing green...
If someone asks about how to prevent the changes, I emphasize that
the patina will happen. It is the 'nature of the beast.' There is no
coating that will prevent the patina for long. Since Cu is so soft,
it bends easily and any coating will crack and chip.
However if someone asks about Cu affecting arthritis, I say I make
NO medical claims. Frankly, I don't believe there is any effect on
arthritis, but some are convinced Cu helps.
Bottom line is to alert the customer and prepare them to expect the
green onthe skin!
Judy in Kansas, where the last two days have been glorious! That will
change back to temps more like summer. Oh well.
I have been working more in copper than silver in the last couple of
years, and have not had any problems with customer complaints about
turning green (I have had more people walk away from silver due to
metal allergies). I don't make rings, but I coat all of my other
pieces with Renaissance Wax. I tell customers to expect it to wear
off after some useand that they might consider applying a layer of
car wax once in awhile. Ialso use brown colored niobium ear wires on
my earrings, to solve any metal allergy issues.
At the point of sale, I make the argument that many of us have some
articles of clothing which need a little extra care (hand washing or
dry cleaning), so what is so difficult about a periodic waxing for
maintenance? If you like a piece enough to wear it frequently, then
care for it. I make it clear that copper pieces are non-returnable
for "discoloration" reasons, and have never had anyone try.
Thank you to EVERYONE that addressed my concerns about the copper
I do include a warning about basic chemistry to all - and - I do use
the spay lacquer (Krylon) recommended by my well-trained
Waxes cause more allergies than the copper itself (speaking as
someone with weird allergies) so I do not use them. I tried 2
different waxes on the first copper pieces I made and had MAJOR skin
issues. I can actually wear a copper item for awhile, remove it, wash
off the "green" and then I don't have a problem. It is as if my skin
gets "used to" the copper. Same thing with some sterling silver
I will continue to make copper jewelry as it is inexpensive and
people can afford it. I will continue to make NuGold jewelry for the
I make silver rings but haven't sold a single one due to the cost
(again - Made in China crap has ruined it for us - they do not want
to pay more than $25 for something "just silver" - unless it is
stamped "Tiffany & Co." of course!! (I just got back from vaca - the
famous location I visited had sterling silver rings with
semi-precious gems (stamped 925) for.$19.95. Far fancier than I can
make. and waaaay cheaper than I can sell for after the labor that
goes into making each piece.
I am just plain gobsmacked that people just don't know that copper
becomes green as a natural process (and NO, it isn't mold - a
bacterial biofilm will grow under rings of ANY metal that traps
moisture between the skin and the metal). The green is a natural
patina caused by the chemical reactions with other elements. Heck -
they SELL chemical preparations to MAKE the copper green
prematurely!! Haven't these people ever held a penny in a sweaty
palm as a kid? Seen the massive copper embellishments on roofs? Gads
- this was something I was aware of when I was - oh - say, five
years old?!!!! Sorry - just seems very weird to me.