How to protect copper from tarnishing.

Daily Wire Tip Dec. 4: Protecting Copper from Tarnishing

By on December 4, 2009
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Daily Wire Jewelry Making Tip
December 4, 2009

Question:

I just completed making a wire bracelet with bronzite beads.  I used copper for the wire because it matched the color of the beads better than either silver or 14K gold-filled.  However, copper tarnishes or turns green.  I don’t want that – the bright shiny copper color is perfect.  Is there a coating I can apply that won’t affect the polish of the beads?

Answer:

A lot of folks have asked me this question and I still cannot recommend a product that can be used without a lot of safety precautions. I have done some research and found a product made by the folks at EverBrite called ProtectaClear. This is a solution that will coat your all of your wire jewelry to protect it from tarnish as well as from turning skin green or black. I do caution anyone who decides to try it, because as with many jewelry and metal products, the solution can be dangerous if not used with adequate ventilation and skin and eye protection, but ProtectaClear has received great accolades from those who do use it. I also caution using this product on jewelry that contains gemstones and/or pearls!! For more information as well as explicit directions on how to use this product, search for ‘EverBrite coatings’. (No, personally I have not yet experimented with it.)

Answer contributed by Dale “Cougar” Armstrong

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20 Comments

  1. avatar

    Harriet Warkel

    December 4, 2009 at 5:23 pm

    What about Renaissance Wax. That helps with tarnish although not was turning the skin green. I have never had the piece turn green, but there is always a first. This was is great to protect copper against tarnish,etc.

  2. avatar

    JonAnn Shackford

    December 4, 2009 at 6:32 pm

    Hi Dale,

    I have been working a lot more in copper lately because of silver costs, and the fact that when it is polished bright it can have a color similar to rose gold. I recently was reading one of my Jewelry Artist magazines and they had a brief article about a product called Renaissance Wax. You’ve probably heard of it or used it. I LOVE this stuff! It is a product formulated by the British Museum to protect many types of surfaces. The minute I finish a piece or component I get the jar out and sparingly apply it with a soft cloth. It dries in no time and then all you need to do is buff it with another soft cloth or dremel attachment. I usually do two to three coats. It is also great if you dip a piece in Liver of Sulphur and then polish the high areas because you can apply it to preserve the depth of patina. It is widely available online, but I was able to find it locally at a Rockler woodworking store here in Denver. It is not cheap, but a little goes a long way.

    I haven’t been using it long enough to tell, but it may not be a permanent solution to sealing a piece. I may need to retreat pieces periodically. BUT I have not experienced any of the problems I have had with flaking or blotching (or fumes!) that I had with many other types of sealers. Another great discovery was that it allows some of my friends who have problems with wearing silver to wear their jewelry with a lot less allergy issues by simply applying the product to the underside of their jewelry.

    Thanks for the info Dale! I will try the ProtectaClear and see how it works. If you have tried Renaissance Wax I would love to know your thoughts on it as it’s still a new product for me.

    JonAnn
    Denver, Colorado

  3. avatar

    Casey Willson

    December 4, 2009 at 6:43 pm

    For copper I coat the wire only before making the piece. I use the most simple and safe product ever-the generic version of Mop N Glow.
    It DOES change the feel of the wire. It is a liquid plastic.
    It can also be painted on carefully to keep it off stones. Or just put on where the piece touches the skin.Clay or other permeable beads like it but highly polished ones can be ruined so stay away from them.
    I\’ve been known to use it on plated wire too, silver or gold or colored, as it protects the wire from wearing.
    Try it on something really cheap. You may not like it.

  4. avatar

    Una Robinson

    December 5, 2009 at 12:30 am

    On copper and it’s tarnishing. I have found some tarnish resistant 20 guage copper wire. I am Australian but the wire originated in Pakistan, brand name is Darice. I have used it but cannot at this point in time vouch for the veracity of the tarnish resistant claim.

  5. avatar

    Pauline George

    December 5, 2009 at 7:38 am

    On the subject of coating wire especially copper to stop it turning green or tarnishing. I use clear nail varnish! It absolutely works a treat. I use it on all my jewellery to stop them turning a dull colour, on silver, brass and copper. I make a lot of jewellery in copper as I love the brightness that can be achieved, and the fact that if used with liver of sulphur can produce a rainbow of colours. I put it on thinly with the nail varnish brush it comes with and it preserves the shine on jewellery. Try it!

  6. avatar

    Nancy McCune

    December 5, 2009 at 10:10 am

    I have used everbrite and love it… I got the beginners kit. I use a tiny paintbrush and it takes just a small amount to cover the copper. This gives me far better control than a spray can.

  7. avatar

    Jessie Adams

    December 8, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    I guess I am not the only one to look at copper as a economy supplement. I found a coated copper craft wire at JoAnne that works well w/o tarnishing it does change the feel of the bracelet but it is fairly inexpensive. The manufacturer also puts out copper with colored coating too. Only could find it in three gauges.
    The other thing I would suggest as a preventative is good old Never Dull. You get it at the Hardware store and it looks like canned lint, but it is non toxic and was what saved us from general insanity when I was doing a city farmer’s market and had to repolish all of my stock every single week because of the sulfer dioxide from traffic. pull out a piece clean your copper and buff it with a clean cloth( i used paper towels)
    Have fun
    Jessie

  8. avatar

    Elizabeth Thomas

    December 10, 2009 at 11:51 am

    Hi Everyone, I work with a lot of copper wire. I find that if you wear the copper piece a lot it gets nice and shinny and stays good. However if you leave the piece lying around it tarnishes and turns dark. If you leave the piece in the bathroom it tarnishes faster. I use Noxon 7 metal polish, it really works good. Keep a bottle on hand.

  9. avatar

    Tad Stanley

    May 6, 2010 at 3:08 am

    Don’t do this with pearls or stones without testing beforehand, but the easiest way I’ve found to remove tarnish from copper is to swish it in white vinegar, then rinse well in water and dry. It’s safe on crystal and glass beads, but don’t do it on anything else without testing it first. Some things, like pearls, are just too fragile. Also, I once used it on a good hard jasper, and the beads turned a rusty red — they’d been coated with something that reacted with the vinegar. But for plain copper wire, this is a great method.

  10. avatar

    Susan Wier

    October 13, 2010 at 6:18 pm

    Whew! Just finished some copper napkin rings with gemstones for a wedding gift. I really want to preserve that beautiful shine. I’ll try both ProtectaClear and Renaissance Wax and let you know what works for me. Thanks so much.

    • avatar

      dalecgr

      October 13, 2010 at 8:03 pm

      Thanks Susan – we look forward to your opinions!

  11. avatar

    Raymonde Gentile

    July 12, 2011 at 9:09 am

    I recently began creating rings with copper & other wire. At first I tried a nail varnish but that soon wore off after wearing it a couple of weeks. So I went online & read about EverBrite’s ProtectaClear coating, which you can dip or paint on. I put 2 coats on then baked it at a low temp for 2 hours. More labor intensive than I wanted. So I did some more research & found the plated craft wire that Wire-Sculpture carries, in all different colors & gauges. This wire comes already with a non-tarnish coating. So far I’ve had great luck with that. You just need to be careful when working with it so you don’t nick it & go through the coating. I use nylon covered pliers to prevent making marks & nicks on the piece. Happy creating! :)

  12. avatar

    Ellie Norman

    July 12, 2011 at 10:02 am

    Hi, I have used Renaissance wax and everything was very tarnished within a week. The items were kept in my home in plastic bags. Next I used Renaissance wax on wire before making jewelry. Three coats I put on, made jewelry and it was very tarnished within a week. A lot of work for same results as with out wax.

    • avatar

      dalecgr

      July 12, 2011 at 10:48 pm

      Ellie, it doesn’t sound like your “wax” experience was good at all! Maybe one of our readers can offer some more advice that will help you become a fan of this product?

      • avatar

        Anka

        March 3, 2015 at 11:49 am

        I’ve had the same bad experience with Renaissance wax!

  13. avatar

    Steve Bradbury

    November 6, 2011 at 8:32 am

    I make engraved copper jewelry, and had the same experience as Ellie with the Renaissance wax . I have tried both coating the copper sheet prior to engraving, and after with the same results. I’m not a big fan.
    Glad to hear about the Protectaclear..Im going to give that a try.

  14. avatar

    Daniella

    October 4, 2012 at 10:22 am

    I’m trying the Mop N’ Glow route first, so far been happy with the results because it is invisible. Been treating all my earwires and metal beads too. I today cleaned some gemstones I’d wrapped with copper which tarnished, and on reading about the lemon juice and salt tried that and held my breath and dunked in the complete piece(s) and OMG, it cleaned up the copper beautifully, so I rinsed and dried them and holding my breath also again, dunked them in a bath of Mop N’ Glow and now they are drying. So when I inspect them again later on, I will know if it has been successful and they will be ready for my fair in Nov. nice and shiny…LOL Dale, I positively LOVE your blogs, the advice (and replies) are awesome, many thanks.

  15. avatar

    zoraida

    July 31, 2013 at 9:32 am

    I’ve used Protect A Clear with some success. I have the one in a small can and it can be messy. When the can is closed for a while it is extremely difficult to open as it seals itself closed. It came with a small sponge-like applicator which is not easy to manipulate in small areas. Small brushes stiffen and must be cleaned with smelly paint thinner. I also use Renaissance Wax but am not sure of it’s durability. I find copper jewelry will tarnish anyway. I’m now going to try Rio Grande’s Midas Finish Seal Lacquer and hope that works better.

    Zoraida

  16. avatar

    Dru

    November 27, 2014 at 10:18 pm

    Hi, When my copper jewelry darkens I drop it in a glass of Coke or Pepsi and leave it for awhile and it comes out sparkling every time, just like new.I have been doing this for years and it still does the same each time. It takes a few months before it needs doing again but the solution for me is so quick and easy. I even use the same glass of Pepsi or Coke over again sometimes. No wonder I never drink the stuff if it can strip off tarnish etc !!!

  17. avatar

    Smita

    May 1, 2015 at 3:58 am

    Hi!Was just curious to know if the Midas finish seal lacquer worked…. I have been looking for something to make my jewelry tarnish proof.

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