New, shiny copper jewelry can turn dark from oxygen and sweat exposure. So imagine what that means for a decades-old copper bracelet, which has probably developed a patina the original artist never intended. But whether your piece is old or new, cleaning it can be done in a flash by using simple products you have in your kitchen.
Most copper jewelry is non-lacquered and has no protective coating. This means your bracelet has probably been exposed to the elements for far too long. When tarnish appears, give your bracelet a gentle cleansing in a lemon juice solution to turn it bright and shiny once more.
- Fill a bowl with warm water and a few drops of mild liquid soap.
- Dip a soft towel into the solution and wipe down the bracelet to remove surface grime. If the bracelet is truly dirty, scrub gently with a soft toothbrush to get into crevices.
- Rinse and dry the bracelet on a soft towel.
- Fill a bowl with enough lemon juice to submerge the bracelet, then add 1 teaspoon of salt.
- Dip the bracelet into the bowl for one to two minutes, until the tarnish fades. Scrub with a toothbrush to get into crevices.
- Dry the bracelet on a soft towel and buff it with a jewelry polishing cloth.
A lacquered copper bracelet will usually not tarnish, unless it is very old and the lacquer has begun to flake off. If the bracelet sports a dark and tarnished patina, it is likely that the aged effect is intentional. Keep lacquered copper clean by simply wiping it with a damp cloth only. Never use lemon juice or polishing cloths on lacquered copper -- they can damage the finish. If you're not sure whether your bracelet is lacquered or not, dab a tiny amount of lemon juice on an inconspicuous part of the jewelry piece. If the tarnish disappears, the piece is non-lacquered.
Never clean copper bracelets with gemstones in lemon juice. Instead, toothbrush scrub bracelets with ketchup -- avoiding the gemstones themselves.
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A writer with a Bachelor of Science in English and secondary education, but also an interest in all things beautiful, Melissa J. Bell has handed out beauty and fashion advice since she could talk -- and for the last six years, write for online publications like Daily Glow and SheBudgets.