Sunday , 9 August 2020
Over time, copper jewelry will loose its bright shine and take on a patina of its very own.

How To Clean And Care For Copper Jewelry

By: Debra Strickland

Over time, copper jewelry will loose its bright shine and take on a patina of its very own. This can be wonderful to a point, but if it goes beyond that and discolors your skin a strange shade of green, it can discourage you from even buying copper jewelry! Please let me assure you there is a very simple solution to this issue, and it is one you probably already have in your home!

The bracelet in the picture above is my very own, and I wear it on a regular basis. As you can see, it has been quite a while since I’ve polished it and it is very dull! When it is in this state and I wear it on a extremely hot day, the combination of perspiration and the copper will discolor my wrist. If this happens to you, simply wash the discoloration off your wrist with soap and water! It also helps to wash the copper jewelry as well and will help prevent this from happening again until you can clean it at home.

Now to the home remedy for dull copper! It is anything with a high acidic content such as lemon juice, tomato ketchup, or even Worcestershire sauce. Yes, I have tried all of these and they really do work! Lemon juice is my favorite, it seems to work the quickest of the three and with just a little (and I stress just a little) elbow grease your jewelry with be bright and shiny in no time! Just follow these simple steps.

Supplies: a small glass or ceramic dish, the acidic cleaning agent of your choice, a old toothbrush, soap and a drying towel

Gather your supplies and your copper jewelry. Place one piece of jewelry in the dish and pour the cleaning agent over the item and allow it to set for a short time in the liquid, about 10 to 20 minutes. I usually use a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice and turn the copper over every few minutes to assure an even cleaning. NOTE: You may have to change the cleaning liquid a couple of times if the copper is extremely dirty. To move the process along, you may use your old toothbrush to gently scrub into the cracks and crevasses of the design. When you have achieved the desired cleaning, run clear water over the jewelry to rinse. Then use a little soap and the toothbrush to clean just a little more, rinse and pat dry with a towel.

Please DO NOT leave your jewelry in the acid soak for and extended period of time OR if your copper jewelry has pearls, or any other soft stone DO NOT use any of these ways of cleaning!

The picture below is my bracelet after a 10 minute soaking in lemon juice! As you can see, it really does work with very little effort! So when you want to purchase of lovely piece of copper jewelry, don’t let the worry how you will keep your copper clean stop you from purchasing! You can confidently clean your copper jewelry with items you already have!

Check out Debra’s blog: Heart’s Desire Beads 

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  1. Thanks for the info. Nice bracelet too! do you think the acidic cleaning solution would be effective in an ultrasonic cleaner?

  2. Hi Debra! Great article…lovely bracelet. I’ll have to try this on my copper pieces.

  3. Quentin,

    I am sure it does, but this was written to give my customers a simple and “green” way to clean their copper jewelry.


  4. Tim, Thanks for including my article on Handmadeology!

  5. This is great info! I have been using copper in my watches for a while and have not known how to clean copper in such a simple way. Thanks, great job!

  6. Copper can actually be beautiful, but the green that it will turn is better observed from afar, not necessarily something you want to wear. Thanks for the tips on cleaning in a more ‘eco friendly’ way than with commercial cleaners.

  7. I love the bracelets. They remind me of a Pandora jewelry bracelet I have at home. Thoses look totally eco-friendly as well. Am I right? Either way, they are tottaly gorgeous.



  8. I have a necklace that is a combination of copper leaves with pearls in the center. It is old and there is white/green discoloration on parts of it. How can you clean this- thanks

    • Do not use anything acidic to clean jewelry with pearls, it will destroy the pearls! Try using a toothbrush and a little water to clean off the discoloration first. If that does not work, you could take the necklace apart and clean the copper pieces and re-string it again.

  9. Great idea- I have been wondering about this since I offer quite a bit of copper jewelry pieces in my shop. Thank you!

  10. So happy to read this post! One of my favorite rings is copper and it always turns my finger green. Definitely trying this soon, thanks!

  11. You can buy citric acid in good food shops (it’s used for wine making), you can mix it up to a know strength and use that for cleaning metal. Wax or nail polish can be used as a coating to stop it tarnishing again.

    • Now why didn’t I think of wax? I have a great copper bracelet given to me by a dear friend for my wicked Arthritis that turns my forearm a dark shade of green to black in a day. What is the best wax to use? I am thinking a good tough Floor Wax???

  12. faster way to clean, without hurting pearls, is a toothbrush dipped in lemon, dipped in salt, which the pearls don’t mind, scrub quickly, rinse quickly, done. Salt combined with the acid, creates a faster reaction.

    • @Cindy….. Now your solution sounds ideal as well for cleaning. Can you help me find a solution to keep my good ol’ copper Arthritis bracelet from turning my wrist the great colour of green to blue to black? It is a pain in the Arse to have to keep scrubbing my Right wrist every day to return it to some semblance of skin colour whatever that may be at my ripe ol’ age. maybe I should just go for some sort of speckled effect. That seems to be the “Seniors” “couleur du Jour” n’est pas?

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