a lesson in copper.

>> Sunday, December 4, 2011

now this is not me blowing off steam or me not being able to accept criticism, but i felt that it would be a good time to do some education around copper jewelry.  a customer sent me a prickly email about a set of copper and sterling rings that she had purchased from me, stating that the materials i use must not be pure copper or sterling silver because they had turned her ring finger green.  i'll admit that my anger flared up a little for a hot moment - mostly because of the insinuation that my materials aren't pure.  but then i realized that not everyone has the background that i have in regards to metal, so i figured i'd post some information here in the hopes that it will help someone else - because i want the people who wear my jewelry to love it.

there are mystical healing properties associated with copper.  not only is it one of the oldest metals known to man, but it also is an essential nutrient to all living things (and conversely, in large quantities, can be poisonous).  copper has a high electrical and thermal conductivity, surpassed only by silver, which is why copper is used in wiring and piping.  this property of conductivity is also attributed to spiritual energies and thoughts, as well as to helping to align and cure physical and emotional ailments.  pretty awesome, if you ask me.  the fact that copper has a gorgeous sheen and can oxidize to a fantastic multi-coloured patina adds to the beauty of it.

so why does copper sometimes turn skin green?  it's all about the body, baby.  the green stains that may be left on your skin after wearing copper jewelry are formed as your body absorbs the copper.  the chemical makeup of some people's sweat (in this case, the acidity) will react with the metal, which is why some people react and some people don't.  healers who wear copper state that the green tinge is a sign that the metal is "working", and that the colour also can indicate a body that is deficient in copper.  a body that is severely deficient in copper can also respond to the minute levels of copper in 14K gold.  related news - if you have a nickel allergy (and none of my metals contain nickel) you won't get a green stain on your finger, but will have redness at the point of contact with the metal, accompanied by itching and a burning sensation. 

i use certified sterling silver (92.5% pure silver, 7.5% copper) and pure copper (100% copper - duh) in addition to brass (an alloy of copper and zinc - we'll go into that another day), 14K gold filled and rose gold filled wire.  however, people's sensitivities all depend on their chemical makeup, and unfortunately, there are no sure fire ways to guarantee that one won't react to any metal - unless you stop yourself from sweating (yeah, right - seriously, how would you do that?) or don't wear any sort of jewelry at all.  you can coat the inside of your rings with clear nail polish to create a barrier between your skin and the copper, which most people find helpful.  it does need to be reapplied once in a while, but apparently does the trick.  you should also keep your jewelry away from chlorine, salt water, soap, lotions, and hot tubs (right, L?) and clean them often to keep their shine. 

having this response to copper is not unusual, just unsightly.  and of course it seems to affect the people who hate it the most.  it's not just a matter of avoiding "cheap" jewelry, because for some people, even the trace amounts of copper in gold or pure silver can cause a reaction.  i take great pride in the work that i do and i would hate to have someone be unhappy with a piece that they purchased from me.  however, that being said, nature sometimes finds a way to sabotage even the most beautiful fashion choices.

(thanks to metaphysicaldirectory.org, shimmerlings.com and about.com)


Anonymous,  December 4, 2011 at 12:30 PM  

Awesome way to prove a point! You go girl! Your jewelry is beautiful and sorry if 1 in a gozillion take issue with it. You're positive responses are proof enough. And who can help it if the love you put into your treausures turn someone green?...green with envy that is :)

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