Brass is an alloy of copper and a small amount of zinc, the copper used is recycled so it's a great way of using scrap metal to create something new. We love it because of the beautiful pale gold colour and because with a bit of love it will create pieces that last.
Brass tarnishes when it comes into contact with water in the air so it's best to store your jewellery in a box or sealable bag to slow down this process. Tarnish is an oxide that forms on the surface of the metal, and is easy to clean off in a couple of ways.
In the studio we usually re-polish a piece that has tarnished using a silicone disc but there are lots of ways easy ways to keep your piece looking shiny at home.
We recommend Brasso wadding which is a material already impregnated with polish which makes it easy to get the right amount of polish on the piece and to avoid getting excess polish on the stones. You can also make your own polish at home which is more environmentally friendly, but is less effective in our tests. We'll describe both methods here.
Using Brasso Wadding -
- You only need a tiny amount of wadding for each piece. If you don't have this, a cotton bud or cotton wool and liquid polish will also do the trick.
- Rub the wadding over the metal until the oxide is removed. Polish around the Jesmonite stone to avoid transferring the oxide onto it.
- Stop when the wadding turns black, there will be a black residue on the piece but any marks or darker colour will have been removed.
- Polish the dark residue off with a soft cloth until the metal is clean and shiny. If there are some hard to reach areas a toothbrush and a little washing up liquid is good for a final shine up.
- Sit back and admire your handiwork! (left is before and right is after)
Make Your Own Brass Cleaner -
- Use masking tape to cover any jesmonite stones on your piece (tear or cut the masking tape to size - don’t worry about being too precise) - press lightly onto the stones.
- Pour 200ml of white vinegar into a spray bottle.
- Add 1 tbsp of table salt to the vinegar in the spray bottle.
- Put the top back on on the spray bottle and shake vigorously to mix the ingredients.
- Spray your jewellery with the mixture.
- Allow the spray to sit on your piece for several minutes, then wipe the tarnish away from the brass with the cotton wool or clean rag.
- Remove the masking tape carefully from your jesmonite stones.
- Your piece should be shiny and tarnish free!
*You will have ample mixture left to polish with, this can be stored with all your other cleaning products, if you’d prefer to make less just half or quarter the ingredients!