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Should copper scratch easily?


#1

Should copper scratch easily? A young girl in the family bought a
copper ring at Branson, MO and it is scratching badly. Is there a
way to care for copper to prevent scratching and/or fix scratches?
ANd in the future when I myself make copper pieces, will scratching
be something I need to be aware of?

thx


#2
Should copper scratch easily? 

Lets see here. A young girl (ie, a kid, most likely living the usual
active life of most kids) has a band that’s getting scratched. And
you’re surprised?

First, most jewelry metals and materials will scratch if handled
roughly. Exceptions are things like carbides and ceramics and hard
stones. But almost all gold and silver and platinum and even steel
alloys will get scratched if they come into rough contact with things
harder than them. And there are lots of things harder than these
metals around, even including common house dust (which is often
composed in part of quartz dust). It’s just a question of how soft
is the metal, which determine ease of scratching and more, the depth
of the scratches, and how aggressively the metal is contacting these
other materials.

Kids are in general, rough on things. This shouldn’t surprise
anyone.

And copper, like any of the pure metals, is soft. Even when fully
work hardened, it’s softer than most jewelry metals that are more
complex alloys. So it takes less pressure with an abrasive agent to
scratch copper. You’ll see the same with fine silver, fine gold, or
pure platinum, which is one reason why these metals are traditionally
alloyed to make them harder and stiffer.

The only way copper jewelry will never get scratched, or for that
matter, most other jewelry metals too, is if it’s never worn. The
softer the metal, the more easily it gets scratched.

Jewelry makers need to consider that the initial polished surface of
a new piece of jewelry is only temporary, and that the “real” finish
a piece of jewelry will have for most of it’s life is the one that’s
affected by wear, which means a patina of fine scratches on the
higher more exposed surfaces. Any jewelry owner or maker who expects
a piece of jewelry to both be worn, and to remain pristine, is
fooling themselves. So makers of jewelry are well advised to design
with this true final finish in mind. Steps one can take are to use
final finishes like matte, sandblasted, brushed, satin, hammered or
other textured finishes that will not show such a dramatic difference
over time as they’re worn, with the intentionally applied finish not
being so affected by the inevitable scratches.

And if the fact that copper scratches easily is a problem, then
consider harder alloys, like bronze or brass. These will also
scratch, but their harder surfaces will get smaller, finer scratches,
so they may not be so visually affected.

Another thought to mention here is the use of pure copper in a ring.
Copper is kind of reactive chemically, and is somewhat toxic. (don’t
believe me? put some in your fish tank, and watch what happens to the
fish…) I would question the wisdom of giving copper jewelry that
will be worn in contact with skin, to kids.

Peter Rowe


#3

Pure copper is soft, and it will scratch. The addition of small
quantities of other elements can make it resistant to scratches
without effecting the colour too much.

Regards Charles A.


#4

Copper is a very soft metal and scratches exceedingly easily. Work
hardening improves things a bit, but not a lot. Burnishing the
scratches to will smooth them somewhat, and may even remove them
entirely, it will also work harden the surface to make it a little
more resistant to future scratches, but there’s no avoiding it;
copper is soft and easily scratched.

Regards, Gary Wooding


#5

Giving a copper ring to a child is asking for a lot of wear, I
understand that as well. Her experience, however, made me stop and
think about the copper pieces I am making and if it is possible to
make something in copper with more durability. Evidently there is
not, that copper worn - child or adult- is subject to scratching.

Forgetting about the wear and tear, why is it not advisable to give
copper to a child?

Brenda