Caring for Brass and Bronze Jewelry

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So you’re all grown up now. Gone are the days of tossing your $15 Forever21 earrings in your purse at the end of the night and buying statement necklaces exclusively from the thrift store. You’ve invested in some serious, adult jewelry. You’ve also spent time curating your look and these pieces should be a part of your wardrobe for years to come. Like your favorite pair of leather boots, you gotta clean, polish, buff and sometimes repair your jewelry. It’s a bummer when you re-discover your favorite silver ring and it’s turned black or your all time favorite bronze necklace has lost it’s luster. And everyone has a pile of tangled up necklaces and broken parts.




Polishing and cleaning brass and bronze

Over time, brass and bronze can get dark or dull. It’s super easy to polish your pieces up at home, using all natural products. All you need to shine up your brass and bronze jewelry is lemon, baking soda and salt. Try these tricks to shine your pieces:

1. Cut a slice of lemon and sprinkle salt on it. Rub the lemon slice over your piece, rinse with water and dry with a soft cloth.




2. For tougher tarnish, make a paste from baking soda, lemon and water. Use an old toothbrush, cloth or any soft bristle brush to apply the paste. Brush, rinse and dry.



3. When cleaning and polishing a necklace, be sure to be gentle with the chain.




4. If you’re looking for something quick, instant and portable, use a treated polishing cloth. I love the Sunshine Cloth. The cloth is treated with jewelry cleaning chemicals but it is non scratching and works great on gold, silver, brass and bronze.

5. Some of your pieces may have patina or oxidation as a part of the design. Be extra careful when cleaning these pieces, as you may clean away this design aspect. For pieces with black accents in carved/recessed areas, a treated polishing cloth would be your best bet.


Keeping your brass & bronze jewelry looking new –

Taking good care of your brass and bronze jewelry will keep it shinier, longer. Wearing it often tends to keep it looking its best but here’s what to do when you must part with it momentarily:

1. Never shower with your brass and bronze jewelry on! Water, especially city water, can be harsh on metals. This goes for swimming too!

2. Put your jewelry on after you apply lotions, perfume, make-up and other beauty products. The chemicals in these products can react with the metals, potentially changing their color and finish.

3. Avoid storing your brass and bronze jewelry in the bathroom. Remember, brass and bronze jewelry + humidity = tarnish.

4. When you aren’t wearing your piece often, store it in a pouch or plastic, air-tight bag, separately from your other jewelry.

5. LOVE your jewelry! When you’re buying quality, handmade pieces, take special care of them. Treat them with respect. And if you ever have questions about your piece, email the maker. They are a wealth of information and know exactly how to care for every piece they’ve made.


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Minneapolis jewelry designer and founder of Carrier Pigeon jewelry. She has been hand-making jewelry since 2009.

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