Explanation of terms
Oxidize: To combine with oxygen.
Tarnish: Oxidation or discoloration, especially of a decorative metal exposed to air.
Patina: a) a usually green film formed naturally on copper and bronze by long exposure or artificially (as by acids) and often valued aesthetically for its color.
b) a surface appearance of something grown beautiful especially with age or use.
Both untreated copper and silver pendants will develop an oxidation patina(tarnish) over time. Exposure to oxygen will cause this oxidation process to happen much faster than desired. Keeping your untreated copper and silver treasures in an airtight container will drastically slow this process and maintain the pieces original beauty for much longer.
Avoid swimming pools, hot tubs, hair sprays, perfumes or excess body lotions when wearing your untreated metal pieces. Untreated metals DO NOT like that stuff.
REALLY REALLY avoid dropping your pieces on any hard surface. Many of my jewelry creations contain my handmade GLASS beads and they do not react well to being dropped on tile or cement from high places.
For regular cleaning, briefly soak your copper pieces in 2-3 tablespoons in Worcestershire sauce and rub gently. Then rinse with lukewarm water and pat dry with clean soft cloth. Do not ask me how this works, it just does.
Copper oxidization patina can be very beautiful, and it will vary in color depending on wear and your personal skin chemistry. If your copper piece has oxidized and you would like to restore the shiny copper finish, you can polish the piece with fine steel wool and then rinse with warm water to remove any fibers. You can also polish with an nail buffing block to remove any patina and restore the shiny finish. The center bead is made from 100% glass and does not need polishing. Polishing the piece will not harm the glass bead but just avoid buffing the bead itself.
Example: My skin happens to be very low acidity and for some reason when I wear silver it will turn black FAST. But natural copper turns a really pretty orange color when I wear it and I really like that. I still polish my pieces occasionally to shine them up, and the whole process starts all over again.
Types of silver I use:
Fine Silver: Consists of 99.9% Silver which contains only trace amounts of other metals. Silver by itself will eventually tarnish albeit very slowly.
Argentium Silver: A modern sterling silver alloy, containing 93.5% silver. The traditional sterling alloy (92.5% silver + 7.5% copper) is modified by removing some of the copper and adding the metalloid germanium. Germanium acts as a natural tarnish barrier.
Sterling Silver: an alloy of silver containing 92.5% by weight of silver and 7.5% by weight of other metals, usually copper.
(I NEVER use silver plated or silver filled wire)
Untreated silver pieces will begin to develop a dark patina(tarnish) over time. This process happens much more slowly with Fine Silver and Argentium Silver than it does with Sterling Silver (all that copper and junk). To bring your silver pieces back to their original shiny state, lightly buff them with a nail buffing brush or fine steal wool (taking care to avoid any included glass beads) and then wash gently with soapy water and rinse. You may also use commercially available silver polishing pads (again stay away from the glass beads) but do not ever, and I mean EVER, dip your silver pieces in silver tarnish remover liquid. The liquid is EXTREMELY harsh and can permanently damage your silver piece. It will also remove ALL of the tarnish including the intentional patina designed to give the piece that aged look that creates depth and interest. Seriously, just don’t do it.
So, Why don’t you just treat your metal pieces and save us all this hassle?
Great Question! There are zero (and I have really looked hard) sealers available that will adhere to metal FOREVER. Eventually, the sealer will wear off, especially from woven wire pieces where there are so many little nooks and crannies. It may take a really long time but it WILL come off. Plus, I actually like the look of the metal as it ages, and buffing it quickly with a little pad to bring back the shine is really not that difficult. Just sayin’.