closeup beadsCopper beads add a touch of beauty and sophistication to any type of jewelry. Over time, though, copper tends to lose its vibrant shine and take on its own patina. The patina can be quite beautiful and adds to the appeal of many pieces, but it can also reach a point where it starts turning your skin an unusual shade of green.

Unlike some other metals, copper requires special care to preserve its original appearance and to keep it from discoloring your skin. The good news, though, is that caring for copper isn’t difficult. You may even have everything you need to clean your copper jewelry in your cupboard. Here’s everything you need to know about caring for your copper beads.

Protecting Copper Jewelry

Copper has a warm, rich finish that can quickly become tarnished when exposed to moisture and various chemicals. It is also very soft and can be bent or damaged easily. To keep your copper beads looking their best, it’s important to take steps to protect them. They should not be worn when engaging in any activities where they may be bent or otherwise damaged. A beaded copper bracelet, for example, shouldn’t be worn when toiling in the garden or working on a car. Jewelry made with copper beads should be removed before bed to prevent accidental bending.

It’s also important to take steps to protect the beads from moisture and chemicals. You should never work with copper beads when you have wet hands, and the finished jewelry shouldn’t be worn when showering or swimming. You should even remove it prior to going for a run, as the sweat can cause copper to tarnish. Remove copper jewelry prior to applying perfume or lotions, and never wear it when using cleaning chemicals.

Store your copper beads in a dry storage container, and keep it in a cool area away from direct sunlight, as heat causes it to change color. If possible, wrap each piece in a tarnish-resistant cloth and place each wrapped piece in a resealable plastic bag.

Cleaning Copper Beads

handmade copper beadsWhether you are using them to create a new piece or they are already a part of a favorite bracelet, necklace, or earrings, copper beads require a bit of TLC to keep them looking their best. They should be polished regularly, but to prevent damage do not apply too much pressure.

Residue can be removed using water, salt, and vinegar. Boil two cups of water, and then add one tablespoon of salt and one cup of vinegar. Carefully dip your copper beads into the solution to remove residue. Rinse using cool water and allow to sit on a clean cloth to dry.

For stubborn residue, you will need to create a paste using salt and lemon. Combine equal amounts of vinegar and lemon juice, and apply a small amount to a soft, clean cloth. Rub to remove residue. For additional cleaning power, add flour to thicken the mixture. Apply the paste to the residue and let sit for 10 minutes. Wipe clean, and then rinse in cold water.

Tarnish Removal

hand made copper medallionsRemoving tarnish from copper jewelry requires tarnish remover that is specially formulated for copper. Carefully read the instructions, and be sure to wear cleaning gloves. Gently rub the tarnish remover into the beads, being sure to work it into even the finest areas. Continue until the tarnish has been removed. You may need to use a cotton swab to polish the piece. Buff, and then rinse with clear, cool water. Let dry on a soft, clean cloth. Do not store or wear the beads until they have been allowed to dry completely.

Whether you love the rustic patina of copper that’s been around for a while or you prefer it to look like a shiny new penny, copper requires a bit of care to keep it looking its best. While it does require more work than other metals, it is not difficult to care for, and your efforts will pay off in the form of beautiful jewelry that you will be proud to showcase—whether it’s around your neck or in a display case.