Bronze has the distinction of being the first alloy ever and has been used for over 3000 years. It is a durable metal that has played a key role in history. It is known for its excellent durability and wide range of uses.
Bronze jewelry has been worn for as long as the metal has been in existence, and it is easy to see why this well-loved, enduring metal is still a popular choice for accessories. Bronze has an attractive golden-brown hue, subdued luster and a vintage charm. It makes for beautiful jewelry and is very popular, especially in particular parts of the world.
However, bronze isn’t perfect and there are some things you need to be aware of before you wear bronze jewelry. If you’re thinking of buying bronze jewelry, but aren’t quite sure what to expect, keep reading. We cover everything you need to know to buy and wear bronze like a pro!
Bronze Origin and History
Bronze is a metal alloy, meaning that it consists of a combination of metals. The primary metal in bronze is copper (about 88%) and tin (about 12%). Some other metals and metalloids added to make bronze are aluminium, zinc, nickel, silicon, arsenic and phosphorous. Pure copper is soft and not very durable, but when combined with these other metals, becomes hardy and strong.
Until the creation of bronze, the three main materials humans had to work with were stone, wood and copper. Bronze was first created about 3000 years ago and due to its durability and wide applications, was heavily used in warfare, construction and industries. Bronze was also ideal for use in sculptures, musical instruments, coins, medals and jewelry.
Bronze revolutionized human life which is why this period is known as the Bronze Age. Stunning art and craft relics of this time are a testament to the beauty of this metal.
Bronze is used to signify third place in many sporting competitions, such as the Olympics where the second runner up is given a bronze medal.
Does Bronze Tarnish?
Bronze is extremely durable and strong, but is not as pliable as copper. It can be crafted into hardy and beautiful pieces. Because of its copper content, over time, bronze tarnishes and develops a green patina. This occurs when the copper reacts to moisture and air, oxidizing in the process.
Sometimes, the patina is preserved and maintained as it can add a beautiful and vintage look to the bronze jewelry. Many people prefer clean and sparkling bronze jewelry and clean the patina away. This is not difficult to do and requires some household ingredients and a bit of elbow grease.
Bronze Jewelry and Style
Bronze is a versatile metal and suits all skin tones. You can wear bronze jewelry for any occasion as it has a warm tan earthy color that goes well with most outfits and colors.
Bronze is commonly made into large statement pieces, thick stylish cuffs, large rings and eye-catching statement necklaces. Because of its warm earthy tone, bronze goes well with a range of other gemstones and is sometimes combined with other colored metals for a modern and trendy look.
Bronze looks stunning with detailed work and you can find beautiful, delicate designs. There are many ethnic and traditional bronze jewelry designs from all over the world, including India, South America, Africa and Middle East. Many Victorian designs and Steampunk jewelry have been created from bronze. These are beautiful pieces with an attitude.
Bronze pieces have a feel of confidence about them, with a charming vintage and sometimes glorious rustic vibe.
Health Benefits of Wearing Bronze
As bronze consists mainly of copper, wearing bronze jewelry can assist in alleviating copper deficiency. The skin is able to absorb the small amount of required copper through the metal (this is also why bronze jewelry turns skin green). Bronze is also believed to aid in arthritis, rheumatism and joint pain, among others. Please seek expert advice if you are suffering from a health condition.
However, if you have used a sealant on your bronze jewelry, your skin will not be able to interact with the mineral. This will prevent copper absorption.
Some Drawbacks of Bronze Jewelry
1. Bronze and Nickel Allergies
Bronze jewelry is safe to wear unless you have a nickel allergy. Nickel allergy is a health factor affecting 6% of people. Some symptoms of a nickel allergy are red eyes, itchy skin, rashes on skin, dry patches on skin, skin discoloration and even blisters.
If your nickel allergy is severe, avoid wearing any types of alloys that contain nickel. If it is only a mild reaction, wearing jewelry made of sealed or lacquered bronze may prevent reactions to nickel.
2. Bronze and Green Skin
Because of the copper content in bronze, sometimes wearing bronze can cause your skin to turn green where it touches the metal. This occurs when the metal reacts with your sweat and body oils, creating copper chelates which is absorbed by your skin. The excess chelates on your skin is what causes the discoloration.
This green staining is not harmful to the skin, nor is it permanent. It can be easily washed off with soap and water. Keeping your bronze jewelry clean will also help in preventing this from occurring. You can have your bronze jewelry sealed with nail polish, car wax or a commercial sealant. This thin coating will form a barrier between your skin and the metal, preventing it from turning green.
Bronze Cleaning and Care
Wash your bronze jewelry with warm soapy water when dirty when required and make sure to wipe thoroughly before storing away. Use a jewelry polishing cloth to wipe any dust or dirt on the jewelry after you take it off.
As bronze weathers, it develops its green patina which can be unsightly to some. Using common household ingredients, such as lemon, vinegar, salt and bicarbonate of soda, you can clean the jewelry at home and restore it to its original shine.
Avoid using commercial cleaners as tehse can be abrasive and scratch the surface of the bronze. Use wax or polish to keep the bronze jewelry lustrous and sparkling for years to come.
Where to Buy Bronze Jewelry
Bronze jewelry is affordable, stylish and unique but as it’s not a mainstream jewelry metal, you might not be able to find a lot of options at your local store. Try taking your search online for a wider range of options, access to competitive prices and great designs.
We recommend starting your search on Etsy as there is an impressive bronze jewelry inventory at a range of prices and designs to suit all budgets and styles.