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Everyone loves jewelry, especially when they shine!
Unfortunately, jewelry items do not take care of themselves!
That’s our job: we must clean and store appropriately them until the next time.
Brass jewelry is no exception.
In this post, we’ll look into simple DIY methods on how to take care of brass jewelry.
What is brass jewelry?
Brass is an alloy with a bright gold look that makes it ideal for jewelry, musical instruments, clocks and various measuring devices.
It’s an alloy of copper and zinc; quantities vary depending on the characteristics makers want to achieve.
What is bronze? Is bronze the same material as brass?
Brass is quite different from bronze, which is an alloy of copper and tin.
As an alloy, brass may have a few other components such as manganese, silicon, aluminum, and phosphorus.
Its shiny and gold-like appearance makes it perfect for jewelry at a lower price tag.
How Does Tarnish Occur on Brass Jewelry?
Tarnish occurs when there’s corrosion that forms over the brass when its outer layer undergoes chemical reaction from other elements such as oxygen.
Tarnish only occurs on the outer layers of the metal and as it covers the surface.
It actually protects the inner metal from further corrosion or chemically reacting to substances or elements.
To some degrees, tarnish preserves the underlying metal, especially when used outdoors. This corrosion is called patina.
Brass statues, hardware fittings and as building materials, patina is needed to protect them.
But in jewelry, tarnish is clearly not an option we want.
It destroys the original look, shine, and gleam of the metal piece.
How To Clean Brass Jewelry?
The first step in taking care of brass is to find out if it is truly brass or not.
One way to find out is to test with a magnet.
If the metal jewelry sticks to the magnet, then it’s not brass but just a finish and the inner layer is made with other metal.
It is also important to know if the brass jewelry is coated with lacquer or not.
If it is lacquered or protected with the finishing material, the best way to clean with a damp clean cloth; and wipe the dirt and oil residues.
There are many techniques in cleaning brass without resorting to chemical cleaners.
And cleaning tools can be found right at your home; soft-bristled toothbrush, clean cloth, and ceramic bowls; and natural cleaning agents such as lemon, salt, vinegar, and water.
A rule of thumb in cleaning the surface of the jewelry is to follow the natural grain of the metal.
Also, you should dry it immediately as water can leave marks on the metal.
Now, onto the different cleaning methods:
Soap and Water: a classic method
The easiest to way to clean brass jewelry is with soap and warm water.
- Prepare a solution of warm water and mild dish washing liquid soap (just a tad) to begin.
- With your fingers or a soft-bristled toothbrush, start by applying the soapy water by rubbing or brushing the jewelry.
- And when finished rubbing, rinse carefully with tap water until the water runs smoothly but without the slippery soap feel.
- Dry the jewelry by patting gently with a clean soft cloth, thoroughly dry as not to leave any watermark.
This method is used as maintenance to protect from dirt build up.
Ketchup: It is not only for fries!
We all know french fries loves ketchup.
But that red sauce is quite effective in cleaning tarnish and grime of brass jewelry too.
The acid and other ingredients in the condiments are actually good cleaning agents.
- Pour a small amount of ketchup in a small saucer.
- Use a soft brush or cloth, apply by rubing the ketchup on the surface of the jewelry.
- When the item is completely coated with the condiments, let it remain for a few seconds or one minute.
- Completely rinse off the ketchup under running water, then pat dry. Make sure all droplets of water are removed.
- The whole process can be repeated if you are not satisfied with the results and you still see dirt or tarnish.
Lemon juice, Salt and Water
Lemon juice or any sour citrus is good for cleaning but should be dissolved in water.
Using lemon directly on its own can be corrosive and may have an undesirable effect on the metal.
The ratio of lemon juice and water solution is a half lemon to 1 cup water.
- Fill a container with 1 cup of water and squeeze half a lemon then add the juice to the water.
- Add a teaspoon of salt then stir to dissolve it completely into the solution.
- Soak the jewelry into the mix and wait for the dirt to dissolve. Wait until the jewelry is thoroughly cleaned and no residue remains.
- Wash under tap or in a bowl of clean water.
- Dry it completely
Another way to utilize lemon juice is to apply it directly from the pulp, with salt.
- Slice the lemon and dip the exposed or sliced part in salt.
- Apply the salt and lemon on the jewelry, take your time rubbing as much of the mixture to the tarnished parts.
- You can also rub the pulp with salt on a toothbrush and use it to clean the jewelry to thoroughly clean the curves, nooks, and crannies.
- Once the jewelry is clean to your satisfaction, rinse off the lemon/salt mix well with running water or in a bowl of clean water. Then dry with a clean cloth. Make sure not to miss droplets of water to avoid watermarks.
Vinegar, Flour, and Salt
White Vinegar is an all-around cleaning compound that’s known for being gentle on surfaces yet tough on dirt and germs.
- Mix 1 teaspoon of salt to a ½ cup of vinegar, add flour to make a paste-like solution.
- Rub the paste to the brass jewelry and let that sit for 10 minutes.
- Then rinse well and dry with a cloth as well as air dry
By utilizing these household items to clean your jewelry, you save on buying chemical cleaning solutions as well as ensuring the safety and less exposure to chemicals.
Make sure that your jewelry is real brass and not coated with lacquer before using any of these natural solutions.
Don’t use these methods with soft gemstones like pearls. If your pieces contain jewels and stones, always make sure they won’t be harmed by the materials used.
Tips on Taking Care Of Brass Jewelry
Here are 4 tips on taking care of brass jewelry and preventing them from getting tarnish.
These will make your jewelry last longer before tarnish may occur.
- Store your jewelry in a clean, dry and airtight container. Keep pieces separate from one another after you wear them.
- Keep it away from a moist environment such as the bathroom. Humidity and moisture can speed up the tarnishing.
- Silica gel packets that are usually found in shoe boxes, inside newly purchased coat or pocketbooks are helpful in keeping a dry environment for your jewelry. Just insert one packet in your jewelry box.
- If you can’t find a silica gel, chalk is a good alternative in absorbing moisture in the air or inside a jewelry box. Just keep one or two pieces and replace them at least once every 2 or 3 months.
Where to buy brass jewelry?
You can check designs and prices of brass jewelry on Amazon.