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Jewelry Making/Preventing copper tarnishing?

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QUESTION: Hi Chris,
I'm a relative beginner at making wire jewelry, and I'd made a copper wire necklace I love, but after only one wear it turned very dark. I'd really like not only to restore this necklace, but to treat it if possible to prevent, or at least greatly slow, this process.  It is nearly 100% copper wire, with a couple of copper washers and a few large quartz stones that I assume would need not to be touched .I'd made wire 'links' by making little irregular springy coils of wire, so I predict the cleaning process may be challenging. I do have Brasso on hand, but wanted to be sure it was safe.

I very much want to make lots of copper wire things, but not if this is unavoidable. Is there a way to protect a piece, once made, to keep it from going so dark? Also, for future reference, would brass react the same way? Someone had suggested using a spray lacquer, and I have some Rust-Oleum clear spray lacquer probably meant for furniture-- would that be insane?

I appreciate any insight!

Thanks,
Robbi

ANSWER: Robbi, that is what I would use but depending on the stones, you might want to cover them in wax first to keep the lacquer from inhibiting the stones. then soak in hot water to melt the wax when you are done. or you could paint on clear fingernail polish it might be easier.
Copper polishes just like gold or silver and then you can clean in an ultrasonic with soap and water, dry and dip in lacquer or spray  then set your stones, but if you are wrapping it might be better to use a fingernail polish brush maybe cut the tip to a point.
I don't recommend Brasso it may leave a residue and damage some stones, however a jewelers rouge and a soft buff should do the thing. Just be sure it is clean and dry when you paint.

I hope this helps,
C

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you so much! I'm sorry it took me so long to get back to you, but that was very helpful. I did want to ask-- do you also not recommend Brasso on just plain copper jewelry with no stones?  Or is it more a concern for the stones themselves? And I know this is a really stupid question, but are you referring to using a nail polish brush to brush lacquer on the wire around the stones? In the future, I may consider spraying the wire segments with the lacquer before attaching stones to the piece anyway. And again, since I'm great at misinterpreting simple information, just double-checking: I should cover the stones in wax OR clear nail polish? And then it is OK to put them in a ultrasonic cleaner, stones and all? Then remove the nail polish (if used) after, or no?  Or did I totally misread that?

I really appreciate the help! I even found out we already have an ultrasonic cleaner (had no idea!) so I'm almost ready to go! Sorry to have to ask for clarification, I swear I'm smart in other ways.  :)

Answer
Try to avoid chemicals against your skin, just wearing will usually keep the back side polished,  but sometimes an acidic diet may also cause tarnish. I don't recomend using any chemicals on the back if possible, it's better for your health. I do however recommend when all else fails, spray laquer prior to stone setting is the best method to prevent tarnish from occurring but it makes it dificult to polish without removing the laquer , using more chemicals that aren't good for you.
I hope this clarifies things a little bit.
C  

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Chris Eilertsen

Expertise

I have been in the Jewelry Industry 20 years and Apprenticed as a silver smith took classes in Casting sculpting repair and trained under master gold and silver smiths as well as some experience in Faceting and diamond cutting and polishing for repair. Plating, Wax work, Diamond Setting, Engraving, Carving, Mold Making, design, some watch repair, tool making, enamel work, refining, mining, sales, sand blasting, casting. Have worked in Platinum, Gold, Silver, Pewter, Brass, Bronze, Aluminum,Steel,Titanium,Wood, Plastic, and Stone. 10 years Appraisal work in Jewelry.

Experience

20 years commercial experience in Repair Manufacturing and sales of Jewelry 3 years school 4 year apprentice. Worked on the duplication of the treasure found on the Spanish Galleon Maravalla by Dr. Cecil Humphreys. Traveled with and manufactured the souvenirs and miscellaneous replicas from the King Tut Exhibit when it visited the US.

Organizations
Former member AGTA and GIA and a ten year member of Memphis Jewelers association. 17 years experience in Tuscon Jewelry shows buying and selling.

Publications
JCK Tuscon Show Gude

Education/Credentials
Classes at MSU and The Memphis art academy in Jewelry sculpting, Specialized Repair school, and 2 apprenticeships in Silversmithing from Juelius Astor, and Goldsmithing from Katchic Yacubian both masters for over 35 years each.Studied with Dr. Richard Prilliman, and several others.

Awards and Honors
JCK Tuscon Show honorable mention in design.

Past/Present Clients
Dr. Cecil Humphreys Finder of the Spanish Galleon Maravalla, The Vanderbilts, Miscellaneous repair antique estate pieces. Elvis Presley Repair and Appraise 2 pieces of jewelry. Rifat Hassan and Nihall Mumtaz With the King Tut Exhibit. Trade work for over 36 Major Chains from Zales to Sams.

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