Brass jewelry is beautiful and it has a very special touch. People know this metal for its yellowish warm colors which resembles gold. Today brass has many applications and it is used to manufacture various objects, including musical instruments, household items, decorative items, machinery and, of course, brass jewelry. In fact, brass is a very popular metal for crafting jewelry and the main reason for that is because brass looks very similar to gold. Ever since its discovery, brass was used to make beautiful jewelry designs, including brass earrings. In this article, you will find out more about brass jewelry, its history, and how you should care for brass jewelry.

Brass History and Origin

Brass is an alloy composed mostly of copper and zinc. The exact proportions of copper and zinc vary depending on its purpose. Sometimes, metals such as nickel and led are added to brass to change its properties.

Historians have concluded that bronze was crafted created in Mesopotamia, around 3500 B.C., as an alloy of copper and tin. Bronze was used to manufacture tools and armaments. It was not until the year 1400 B.C. that brass, a copper-zinc alloy, was discovered. Variations of brass have been made around 500 B.C. in different parts of the world. Brass was even used in 250 B.C. in the Roman Empire to manufacture coins. Back then, only the emperor and the most powerful nobles afforded brass jewelry. Having a brass ring, a brass necklace or a brass bracelet, expressed status and wealth. It was not until the Middle Ages that brass started to be used extensively. Ever since its discovery, brass has been used to create beautiful jewelry and decorative items. Its golden tones offer the elegance and sophistication of gold, but without the high price tag.

Brass has spread through different cultures and helped create various ornaments. In East Myanmar (Burma) Kayan women wear brass coils to elongate their necks, as in their culture the longer the neck the more beautiful the person.

Brass Durability

Brass is famous for its durability and strength, but also for its malleability. It is a very malleable metal ideal for creating complex jewelry designs. Brass does not break that easily and instead, it tends to stretch when pressure is exercised on it. It is a well-known fact that brass jewelry can last for a very long time with reasonable maintenance and care. In addition to this, unlike iron, brass does not rust and resists to corrosion. The downside of brass is that it can develop a patina (greenish layer) over time due to the copper present in the alloy.

Brass Plating vs. Solid Brass

Most of the brass jewelry you find on the market is solid brass jewelry. However, sometimes you can find brass plated items which will be very difficult to differentiate from the solid brass jewelry. But why does it matter if brass jewelry is plated or solid?

Plated jewelry only has a very thin layer of the metal on the surface. In time, this coating can wear off and the metal underneath will become visible. If you have brass jewelry, such as a brass bracelet or brass necklace you can check if they are solid or plated with a magnet. You can also analyze the scratches on the surface of your jewelry.

Brass Jewelry

Because of its durability, brass is a very popular jewelry metal. The beautiful warm tones of brass can range from a classic yellow to a dull gold color. It is very common for large jewelry pieces to be made out of brass for dazzling effects. However, brass can be also found in many minimalist designs. Brass can be used to create all sorts of jewelry, including brass earrings, necklaces, bracelets, bangles, and rings.

One of the most popular brass jewelry is the brass bracelet, which offers a touch of sophistication to any outfit. Brass cuffs are gender neutral, so men and women alike can wear them. Dangle earrings made of brass can complement any outfit, while stud earrings are ideal for regular wear.

Brass is a very resistant metal, which makes it very good for securing gemstones. Pairing colored gemstones with brass can produce a beautiful, antique effect and because brass is a versatile metal it can be paired with almost any color.

Brass Maintenance, Cleaning, and Care

Brass oxidizes and will begin to tarnish and start to have a green color. To clean the tarnished brass you can either take it to a jeweler for a professional cleaning, or you can restore its shine using a cleaner that has acidic ingredients, like tomatoes, vinegar or lemon juice. There are many effective methods to clean brass jewelry in the comfort of your own home. Most of the time these home “remedies” are very effective, but if you are not successful, you can always use special brass jewelry cleaners.

To clean brass jewelry you can use a soft cloth or a brush. Be careful not to scratch the brass by using abrasive cleaning items. You should firstly wash the brass jewelry with warm water and soap to clean the dirt and grime buildup. Afterward, you can use the acidic solution (home “remedy” or professional brass cleaner). Rub slowly and use a polishing cloth to increase and maintain the luster of the brass. Regular maintenance can ensure your brass jewelry will always sparkle and look beautiful.

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Ruxandra is a fashion blogger who teaches fashion stumped twenty to thirty somethings how to shop their jewelry boxes for polished new ensembles. Her work has been featured in Vogue, Fashionista, Nylon, and Refinery29.