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Prejudice against copper materials?


You’ll run into negative responses from some people no matter what
the metal is with which you work. Platinum is too expensive, gold is
overpriced and silver tarnishes are all common complaints. In
general the response to copper or brass, even silver is the result of
the fact that it oxidizes (gold does too but at a much slower, almost
negligible rate). There’s also the lovely green or black "stain"
that is deposited on the skin of many wearers of copper and brass or
people are skin sensitive. When that’s not a problem, people don’t
want to have to clean their jewelry very frequently.

If you’re not using a patina or sealing your metals, they change
color fairly rapidly. Because my students are young (high school)
and have all that oil and those acids in their skin, their copper and
brass pieces turn color literally overnight and have very noticeable
fingerprints 99% of the time. Fortunately they are the age group
most likely to like something because it’s pretty, unique, they made
it or it was given to them by someone special.

However, if your items are priced for your market, good design seems
to carry the day for pieces in copper and brass. You’ll probably
need some patience while you find your niche. If you don’t feel like
you’re selling out, you might add some silver accents to your
pieces. The color is great with copper and might be a good marketing

HTH Linda

In posting a response to Mike’s “copper prejudice” post, I ended up
with this mulling around my head:

I make jewelry to connect with people – I adore it when a woman
goes nuts over one of my pieces, buys it, and calls me later to say
how many people admire it and how special it makes her feel. Bingo!
That’s the wonderful human sharing and connections of making and
passing on adornments. Nothing I’ve ever done that is creative has
this special human-to-human connection.

I don’t make jewelry to demonstrate the highest form of art as a
jeweler – that is, in producing pieces I am usually drawing out from
the stones and metal the design, form, and function that reaches my
goals of ultimate adornment (aesthetic) and the making of the piece,
the process, is second for me. I know this will likely evolve as I
mature as a metalsmith, but that’s how I perceive it now.

When I started out I thought I couldn’t sell anything until I could
perform every type of skill in silver and then gold – not until I
was a “true artist” (whatever that is). But my recent experience with
the copper pendants really changed this perception. Here I am with a
line of copper pendants that make people go nutso, and I never wanted

Does that not make me an artist, because I create for people and not
the art? I lurked around Orchid for a year before joining in because
I thought had not earned the title of “metalsmith” let alone


Hello, Here is where I think I have found prejudice when it comes to
copper or brass, the jury to get into the “good” art shows. Like you
Roseann, the pieces we make out of copper and brass are a huge hit
(it has supported us for over 12 years). But I find that Cherry
Creek and others of such league look down upon copper and silver
workers. Okay group, am I paranoid?

Have a great weekend…
Andrea in the Smoky Mtns.

When I first started selling my mokume gane jewelry I used copper
and brass and silver in the pieces I made. Partly because I could
not afford to experiment with gold but mostly because the colors
available in the patinas of copper alloys are so varied and so much
more intense visually than the colors available in gold alloys. The
public however was not willing to pay enough to cover the labor
required to make the jewelry because it was “just copper”. Once I
started to work in gold I had little trouble making a reasonable
wage for my labor but the color contrast is much lower between the
gold alloys. I did try adding some copper alloys to the laminate mix
but the corrosion of the copper is so rapid when it is used in rings
with gold alloys that a ring will literally come apart in a matter
of a few years because the copper is etched away by the action of
the corrosive chemicals in sweat and water. – Jim Binnion

James Binnion Metal Arts
Phone (360) 756-6550
Toll Free (877) 408 7287
Fax (360) 756-2160

Member of the Better Business Bureau


I very much enjoyed your posts.

I only joined up with Orchid a little while ago, I was so delighted
to find a forum of people who welcomed “all” with open arms. Who where
willing to help with vital and sources of materials, and
most importantly support, and encouragement. And I have to say I have
come across some really rare and wonderful people in this short time.

But I am a bit worried about the latest negative element to the
forum, “the elitist attitude is a bit sick to be honest”. It just
takes a few mean spirited individuals to ruin it for everyone. I
wonder if they have ever heard the term, “Live and let live”? The
Prejudice has now moved from beadwork to Copper, “lets please burry
the hatchet”.

This is not a bitch fest! and it get real tired real fast! Please let
us all move on! keeping in mind the pure and kind spirit of all those
that make this forum a pleasure.

Tina Ashmore
Dublin, Ireland

G’day; this is a very valuable forum for all people interested in
jewellery and wearable art. Everyone is entitled to their opinon.
The idea is that if one feels strongly about something, by all means
bring it to light, BUT!! That opinion must be expressed in honest
terms, tempered with feelings for the opinion of others. Which
includes civilised politeness in the way one expresses one’s
feelings on any subject, particularly in regard to the prejudices of
others - to which they are entitled, provided they don’t attempt to
force them on others. For instance, I personally dislike the use of
copper in jewellery, but that is purely my opinion and one mustn’t
get a bit upset if others politely disagree. Everyone has the
option of choice, and may exercise this option to the full,
Provided one does not express it in some way as to offend reasonable

‘Ah! But there lies the rub’ And remember, “All th’ world’s queer,
save thee and me. And I’ve got me doubts about thee”. And “One
man’s fish is another’s poisson” and many other dreary cliches.

Cheers for now,
JohnB of Mapua, Nelson NZ

Thank you John Burgess…very well said. You know, compared to
other lists I have been on…Orchid is STILL the best I’ve ever seen
in regards sanity and politness!! I think everyone can become
emotional now and then and allow that emotion to overtake what may
normally be a reasonable viewpoint. On occasion I have seen that
happen on Orchid but…normally when the individual involved thinks
about it they apologize or otherwise mitigate the situation. Keep
moving forward Orchadians.

Cheers from Don at The Charles Belle Studio in SOFL where simple
elegance IS fine jewelry! @coralnut2

But I am a bit worried about the latest negative element to the
forum, "the elitist attitude is a bit sick to be honest". It just
takes a few mean spirited individuals to ruin it for everyone. I
wonder if they have ever heard the term, "Live and let live"? The
Prejudice has now moved from beadwork to Copper, "lets please
burry the hatchet". 

Tina, I don’t understand your comments. What I see on this thread
is lots of folks saying, yes, some potential customers may be put
off by copper, but it seems that many are not and even prefer to
have copper included in their jewelry. Since I work in base metal,
I find all the comments to be very helpful. I don’t sense that
anyone on the Orchid list is “dissing” copper but only telling of
their experiences. Keep 'em coming!

In general, I find that patinas which include selenious acid (I rub
off the excess black color with damp pumice) work well on base metal
and often prevent it from further oxidation (or, slow it down
greatly). I frequently wear a wide nickel-silver ring which I
patinaed and it never leaves a green area on my finger, even in
summer [should it ever arrive!] humidity [this has arrived!].

Judy Bjorkman