Jewelry making is proving to be one of the most lucrative industries in the U.S. as sales are expected to rise to just over $35 billion by 2019. As the demand for fine jewelry made from precious metals and stones increases, however, jewelers might want to keep in mind people who suffer from metal allergy. When choosing a base metal for a certain piece, it would be better to avoid nickel, cobalt or chromium because these elements are known to be contact allergens. Some people are even allergic to gold due the high prevalence of contact allergy associated with it.
If you are looking for hypoallergenic and economical alternatives to the aforementioned metals, consider copper and its alloys instead. Copper’s antimicrobial properties make it perfect for people who experience skin irritation when wearing certain types of jewelry. Here are some useful tips for when you go looking for supplies of copper and brass sales.
Preserve Its Natural Color
Copper’s gorgeous, reddish hue is what makes it very desirable especially now that the famous “rose gold” tint is used on everything these days. Unfortunately, copper and copper alloys oxidize rather quickly when exposed to the elements. Direct contact to skin and lack of maintenance on the end user’s part also speed up the oxidation process. To preserve its lovely color, you can protect it by sealing it securely and using renaissance wax.
On the other hand, some jewelry makers prefer to mount copper onto a backing made of a different material. For instance, a copper bracelet may be placed on top of a sterling backing so that it doesn’t directly come in contact with the wearer’s skin. Similarly, copper earrings may be designed with colored niobium ear wires because this metal is highly resistant to corrosion and generally safe for people with sensitive skin.
It’s also a good idea to sell copper products along with anti-tarnish tabs or bags. This way, you can advise buyers to keep jewelry in these special containers when they take them off. Give your customers some pointers on how to clean their jewelry to stop oxidation as well.
Give It the Vintage Treatment
If you want to give your pieces that timeless look, you could just let nature take its course, so to speak. To the right buyer, antique and vintage jewelry with a beautiful patina (greenish or bluish discoloration on the surface) are just as valuable as the shiny pieces. The patina even acts as a protective barrier between the skin and the jewelry itself.
Artisans can achieve this effect in several ways, but perhaps the most popular method of patinating copper is using liver of sulfur (LOS). LOS is a mixture of potassium trisulfide and potassium thiosulfate that alters the color of metals. Jewelry pieces are dipped into the solution and then sealed using acrylic resin or craft lacquers. The result is a darkened coloration depending on how long they were submerged into the solution.
Copper and brass are excellent materials to work with no matter how you choose to create your jewelry. Make sure to source them from trusted suppliers, such as Rotax Metals.
About Rotax Metals
Rotax Metals is a leading supplier of copper and bronze alloys in all shapes and sizes. We have been providing high-quality materials to many industries around the world since 1947. Our services also include polishing, metal shearing, waterjet cutting, metal fabrication and more.
Surgical Steel and Hypoallergenic Metals, Rings-Things.com
Guide to Base Metals in Jewellery Making, CooksonGold.com