What is copper?
Copper is an essential mineral found in plant life and in the human body and it is also a metal alloy with a reddish-orange color. The use of copper dates back over 10,000 years. Pure copper is very soft and malleable and is combined with other metals, such as brass and bronze, for use in jewelry and other uses. Copper is used in currency (the U.S. penny), and is used as a heat conductor, in medical instruments, and has been used as a decorative coating of famous gates, such as the Temple of Jerusalem, sculptures, and statues, most notably, The Statue of Liberty, the largest copper statue in the world.
Since 100% of copper can be recycled without any loss of its original mined quality, it is the third most recycled metal. Over 80% of the copper mined since it was discovered thousands of years ago is still in use today. When copper tarnishes, a beautiful green patina covers the piece.
What is the history of copper jewelry?
Copper is the oldest metal ore. Originally mined by prehistoric man, evidence points to the first discovery of copper approximately 13,000 years ago. Refining processes took a little longer to establish, around 5000 BC, mainly in the Middle East.
The Egyptians were the first to create metal alloys from copper – bronze (copper and tin) and brass (copper and zinc). The metal was highly prized in its natural form, as well as for use as an alloy. The more copper a person owned, the greater their social status within society.
Due to its malleability, jewelry makers found it an easy medium to work with and were commissioned by royalty and high officials to create crowns and other elements that signified their station. Copper was also used in religious and spiritual ceremonies, as well as for medical procedures. Hieroglyphics depict that not only was copper valuable, but that copper jewelers and the owners of copper held an increased status in that era.
Early man in the Americas also used copper, mainly to produce jewelry items such as beads and earrings. With the arrival of Europeans on the continent, copper jewelry, mainly bracelets, gained a whole new significance as a trading item for Native Americans. To this day, Native Americans still value copper jewelry highly. In fact, many Native American reservations still produce copper jewelry, with bracelets, pendants and earrings containing Native American markings and etchings being a popular tourist souvenir.
Today, the healing properties and simple beauty of copper still make it a fashionable and highly sought after jewelry item.
[Information provided by Beatrice Quany for ILoveCopperJewelry.com – John S Brana, handmade copper jewelry]
What is a copper deficency?
Copper deficiency can be caused by a diet that lacks foods containing copper (such as shellfish, certain nuts, chocolate, liver, or red wine) or from ingesting high doses of vitamin C or zinc, both of which can block copper’s absorption. The body uses copper for proper bone, nervous system, joint, and circulatory system health. Oral supplements can overload the body with unnecessary copper and can do damage in people who are unable to metabolize the mineral. Therefore, some people find it beneficial to wear copper jewelry for the purpose of having a small amount of copper absorbed through the skin.
Most people have the ability to take in as much copper as their body needs and block any excess, which makes copper jewelry perfectly fine, and perhaps even beneficial, for most.
What is copper toxicity?
Copper toxicity is typically a problem due to the ingestion of copper and not from wearing copper jewelry. Ingesting copper, which can lead to copper toxicity, can come from poor sources in vitamins or high-risk food sources in underdeveloped areas and countries. Studies by scientists and doctors believe that there is no correlation bewteen copper toxicity and exposure to copper water pipes and living near copper sources.
What are the healing properties of copper? Will coated copper work?
The healing properties of copper are an enzymatic chemical reaction positively involving the body’s own chemistry. For this to happen, copper must come into contact with the body’s skin oils and acids, so coated copper will not work. When copper is in direct contact with the skin, the micro-nutrient properties of copper enter the bloodstream through the skin as a copper salt, resulting from a mix of body oils and acids, and the chelated copper picked up from the copper source.
It is very important to use pure copper, which is defined as 99.9% copper with trace elements of tin and zinc, which are also beneficial metals.
What are the health benefits of copper?
People who are deficient in copper may benefit from wearing copper jewelry, since it can be absorbed through the skin. Jewelry is a good way of taking in the small amount of the mineral needed. The healing properties of copper, in the form of bracelets, necklaces, rings, or earrings, can allow a minimal amount of the mineral into the body without overwhelming it. Some wearers of copper jewelry find it relieves the symptoms of arthritis and circulation problems.
What are the holistic and spiritual properties of copper?
On a holistic level, copper has historically been associated as the body metal, and is considered a grounding metal for the human body and spirit. (Silver is the metal of the spirit, and gold is the metal of the mind.)
Spiritually, copper is also considered a metal capable of storing healing properties holistically, as well as having protective properties. This is why it was used in ancient times for totems and talismans.
Because holistic and spiritual uses of the copper properties are holistic in nature, copper can be coated for these properties to work, in theory. However, some people still believe these properties could be blocked by the physical barrier of a coating on the copper. For healing purposes, the copper should not be coated to allow direct contact with the skin.
Is copper jewelry durable?
Copper is an extremely durable metal and is often used in products designed to last a very long time, such as building wire, water pipes, and tube fittings. As jewelry, copper will last a lifetime or longer, when cared for properly. Copper is sometimes used as a base for jewelry on top of which another metal is plated, such as silver or platinum.
How do you to clean copper jewelry?
Occasionally, copper jewelry or the skin of its wearer can turn green. This happens when the metal interacts with sweat and is referred to as copper chelates. The chelates assimilate to the body and are absorbed, and many wearers expect this to happen as proof that the copper is working with their body. Green coloring on the skin comes off with soap and water, and polishing copper jewelry is as easy as finding an acidic item in the kitchen. Lemon and ketchup are both excellent for cleaning copper jewelry. Simply place the piece of jewelry in a small bowl and cover with your choice of cleaner. Let it soak for no longer than 20 minutes. If necessary, use a soft toothbrush to reach into crevices on the jewelry. Use mild soap and water to wash the acidic cleaner off the jewelry and pat dry with a soft cloth. The piece of copper jewelry should regain its shine and look new again.