Copper, which is one of the least expensive metals used in jewelry making, is also a little difficult to keep looking new. Copper jewelry often oxidizes, or tarnishes, by turning green. This is usually due to age or environment, but can also happen in reaction to a person's body chemistry. Some people can wear unsealed copper with no ill effects, while others may experience copper oxidation after wearing a copper jewelry piece for a single day. To avoid oxidation and keep copper looking new, the copper must be sealed.
Things You'll Need
1 cup lemon juice
1 tbsp. salt
Create a cleaning solution to remove all oils from the surface of the copper jewelry. Mix 1 tablespoon of salt into 1 cup of lemon juice and let the salt dissolve. Pour the mixture into a bowl.
Put the copper jewelry into the lemon juice solution for a brief moment, then rinse it off with water.
Rub a small amount of baking soda all over the surface of the copper to neutralize the acid from the lemon juice solution. Rinse the baking soda off the jewelry.
Choose a clear lacquer. You can use a simple art product like Krylon Crystal Clear spray, or you can use a metal sealant like Everbrite Protective Coating.
Lay out your copper jewelry piece on a protected work surface in a well-ventilated room or outdoors.
Coat one side of the copper jewelry with your chosen lacquer. If you are using a spray lacquer, shake the can well before use and apply the spray in a smooth back-and-forth motion. If you are using a brush-on lacquer, use small, even strokes. Let the lacquer dry.
Turn the copper jewelry piece over and coat the other side with lacquer. Let the lacquer dry again.
Put on a pair of latex gloves to avoid contaminating the copper jewelry with your skin oils.
You can also clean the surface of your copper with vinegar.
Do not use this method on copper jewelry that has gemstones. You must first remove the gemstones from their settings.
If you choose to work with a metal sealant, make sure to wear goggles and a face mask. The chemicals in this type of coating are highly toxic.