3 Things You Need to Know About Brass Jewelry
When I created Bombay Taxi Boutique in 2015, my goal was to bring beautiful, high quality, limited edition pieces from India to my friends in Cleveland and across the country. India is known for its handmade jewelry, and in general, Indians tend to prefer pieces that have true value - gold, silver, precious stones. These are usually part of a bride's wedding trousseau, and are widely believed to be a worthwhile investment for eventual resale, if necessary. Now, while I would have LOVED to include precious metals and precious stones in Bombay Taxi pieces, the simple truth is that these pieces are frankly out of my own budget, and I strongly believe that I only want to offer pieces that I wear myself!
And so I went with some great next-best options: brass and gold plated brass. As gold-tone jewelry has increased in popularity over this decade, brass jewelry is also on the rise, and there are few things you should know before you buy.
1. What is brass?
Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc - the proportions of the two differ to create different kinds of brass that range in degree of yellow-color. If you have a nickel allergy, you are very unlikely to be allergic to brass since there is no nickel in it at all.
2. Will brass turn my skin green?
It might. It is the copper in brass and bronze that might cause your skin to turn green, and this likelihood is increased if your jewelry comes in contact with water. As such, if you're wearing a brass ring, it is most likely to leave a green mark on your skin when you sweat or wash your hands. This is generally not harmful or painful (it is just oxidation of the metal) and will go away within a few hours of removal. If you absolutely hate it, you can put a thin layer of clear nail polish on the part of your jewelry that touches your skin and you will not have this issue. Note that you will not have this issue with gold-plated brass. The gold (or rose gold) plating keeps the brass from making direct contact with your skin.
3. My brass jewelry is looking dull - what do I do?
Your brass jewelry will change color with time and wear - it may start to take on a patina or darker areas, which is completely normal. Some people like this personalized look of brass, and others prefer it shiny. In any case, if you want to clean your brass jewelry, here are three options that are fairly easy and use simple household items.
You will need the following : warm water, a soft toothbrush, and one of the following: gentle dishwashing detergent (I prefer Dawn), or ketchup, or toothpaste (my preferred method).
(a) Start off by plugging your sink. This will ensure you don't lose any jewelry down the drain
(b) Using your soft brush and some warm water, brush off any visible dirt or particles off your jewelry
(c) If you are using detergent, mix some detergent in a bowl of warm water, and submerge your jewelry for 10-15 minutes. Remove jewelry from the solution, gently brush it with the soft toothbrush, rinse off and dry thoroughly.
If you are using ketchup or toothpaste, put a small amount on the soft toothbrush, and gently brush your jewelry until the shine has returned. Rinse off and dry thoroughly.
The key to all these cleaning methods is to be gentle with the toothbrush. You don't want to scratch your jewelry, and also make sure you dry it off thoroughly.
Overall, brass is an easy and versatile metal to use in jewelry, and with care, brass pieces will be with you for a very long time. As with all jewelry, it is best to put them on last, right before you the leave your house, and take them off and store them carefully right when you get back.