How to Clean Copper Jewelry

Copper jewelry, even pieces that have been lacquered, can tarnish over time because of exposure to sulfides in the air, as well as humidity. You can easily clean your copper jewelry if it hasn’t been lacquered.


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    Determine if your jewelry is made out of pure copper. Most pieces that haven’t been lacquered will tarnish fairly quickly. If you are in doubt, take the piece to a professional jeweler.
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    Use a jewelry polishing cloth to clean lacquered copper jewelry. Gently rubbing the jewelry piece with the cloth will most often restore the shine; lacquered copper doesn’t really tarnish if the lacquering was done properly, it just gets dull over time. You can purchase a polishing cloth at any jewelry store.
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    Clean copper pieces that haven’t been lacquered with a commercial jewelry cleaner or with any of these handy household products;
    • Cut a lemon in half and add a dash of salt to cut side. Rub the lemon over the jewelry piece. You can also add a dash of salt to some lemon juice (enough juice to coat the piece). Dip the jewelry into the juice and let it sit for a few minutes. Rinse the piece off with water and dry it thoroughly with a polishing cloth.
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    • Rub your jewelry with a small amount of ketchup or tomato juice. Rinse well and dry with a polishing cloth.
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    • Combine equal parts of lemon juice and baking soda to form a paste and rub the paste on your jewelry. Rinse and dry.
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    • Sprinkle some Worcestershire sauce on your copper piece. Rinse well and dry thoroughly.
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  • Take your copper jewelry off before you do the dishes or any other kind of work that might scratch or bang it.
  • Don’t let lemon juice or any other acidic substance come into contact with stones that may be embedded in the jewelry piece.
  • Natural oils from your skin can cause your jewelry to discolor. You can apply clear nail polish to the areas that come into contact with your skin. You should reapply the nail polish periodically.
  • If you buy an antique piece of copper jewelry (which most likely hasn’t been lacquered), removing the tarnish may well devalue it. Antique jewelry collectors don’t usually clean their items, and may not be willing to pay for a piece that has been cleaned.
  • Use a jewelry polishing cloth between cleanings to keep your jewelry shiny.
  • Make sure your jewelry pieces are completely dry before you put them away. It’s a good idea to store your copper jewelry in an airtight box or in plastic, re-sealable bags to keep the air and humidity from tarnishing them.
  • Some commercial jewelry cleaning products may contain substances that will damage gem stones. If your copper piece has gem stones, you may want to take it to a jeweler to have it cleaned.
  • Your copper pieces will maintain their luster if you treat them with care: wipe off your jewelry with a polish cloth after you have worn it. You can also clean it occasionally with a mild detergent and water.
    • You can use commercial cleaner, but before you do, make certain that this products will not do any damage to any stones your jewelry contains.
    • Surprisingly, the tomato acid found in Worcestershire sauce is an excellent choice for cleaning copper jewelry, but it also should not be used with pearls or delicate stones that could not withstand commercial cleaners.
    • Ketchup also does a good job, but it is less convenient to use. You can apply it with a soft cloth or old toothbrush and then rinse the jewelry well, but take the same precautions that you would with Worcestershire sauce. You can also combine water with lemon or lime juice and a teaspoon of salt, and stir the mixture gently. Allow the items, which should not be in the delicate category, to soak in this mixture for just a few minutes. Then remove them, and be sure to rinse the jewelry thoroughly. If required, you can also repeat the process.
  • Grapefruit juice, vinegar and anything else mildly acidic will clean your copper, but lemon juice generally works best.
  • Don’t wear copper jewelry in swimming pools or hot tubs. The chemicals in the water can damage your jewelry.
  • To keep you copper jewelry from tarnishing, store the pieces in a jewelry case or re-sealable plastic bag, and use anti-tarnish paper.

Things You’ll Need

  • Jewelry polishing cloth or lint free cloth
  • Lemon juice
  • Salt
  • Baking soda (optional)

Article Info

Categories: Jewelry and Watches