Copper makes the beautiful and much admired Rose Gold. Copper is usually considered the lower rank among the top three metals. Gold, silver and then…copper.
A few historical details about copper:
• it is prehistoric – this means it existed before written records
• copper gets its name from Old English, ‘coper’ which was born out of the Latin, ‘Cyprium aes’ which means a metal from Cyprus1
• on the Periodic Table, the copper symbol is Cu, atomic number 29
• humans have been working with copper for more than 8,000 years2
Much in the way that Rose Gold is a percentage of yellow gold, silver and copper there are many items including, the copper penny, that are now copper alloys. Copper is a very malleable metal and can be made into a stronger metal by mixing with tin, zinc and other metals to create an alloy. Copper is a highly used electrical conductive because it is ductile and thermal resistant.
Not only is copper useful in instruments for everyday use but it has tremendous health benefits. Do you take a multi-vitamin? Check the label for ingredients. Copper gluconate is in most common daily multi-vitamin supplements. According to “Medical News Today,” copper benefits cardiovascular health, neuron signaling, immune function, osteoporosis, collagen production, arthritis and antioxidant action.3 Of course all of this is good when taken in moderation. Excessive cumulation of copper in the blood stream can reap copper toxicity. This is rare but, it can cause liver damage among other side effects.
Why does copper irritate the skin on some people and not on others? Great question!
First, copper salt can be a natural irritant to the skin. When we sweat we create a reaction with the copper salt and our skin. Also, skin may turn green when wearing natural copper and this is a normal reaction to sweat. It is not harmful but if your skin starts to itch and develops a rash then discontinue wearing the copper. Many people have different reactions to different metals and much of this has to do with what is going on inside your body and the added mineral next to the pores of your skin. There are some who can’t wear sterling silver either.
In the book, “Copper and the Skin,” it states that much of the research that has been done on the impact of wearing copper and its “efficacy of dermal assimilation of copper in arthritic and rheumatoid conditions by skin contact … have been few, poorly conducted … and mostly subjective evidence of benefits to be expected by mere skin contact with the metal.”4 It also goes on to examine that the process of the salts in copper and how those salts interact with the “micro-enviroment” (eg. sweat from the skins pores) are unpredictable. In other words, everyone is different in how their skin will react to different metals. Your best bet is to try some and see what happens. You won’t die from it but, your skin may become itchy and swell a bit. Then you will know you can’t wear pure, natural copper.
Copper quintessence is warm with the color of a radiant sunset.
Copper adds depth when adjoined with silver, gold/brass. It is a versatile substance from the earth given to us. See the link below from the Britannica website that delves into some ancient ruins. This brings a deeper perspective to a common mineral element.
Kaleido Wire and Stone, basically, me, myself and I, is going on a journey with copper in creating designs of chain maille and wired stone. Some of the designs will be bare copper which means there is no seal or clear coat enamel protectant. In many cases, I use a polymer-based resin seal instead of enamel which will be stated in the listing of the item.
Tidbit for hobbyists/crafters: There is a lot of copper wire sold in art and hobby stores that is already sealed and this is good wire to work with if you have questionable allergies but, you also have to be careful to understand that when working the wire, any nicks, cuts or abrasions will penetrate the protective layer of clear coat seal.
1 “Copper – Element Information, Properties and Uses: Periodic Table.” Copper – Element information, properties and uses | Periodic Table. Accessed May 7, 2020. https://www.rsc.org/periodic-table/element/29/copper.
2 Pappas, Stephanie. “Facts About Copper.” LiveScience. Purch, September 12, 2018. https://www.livescience.com/29377-copper.html.
3 “Copper: Health Benefits, Recommended Intake, Sources, and Risks.” Medical News Today. MediLexicon International. Accessed May 15, 2020. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/288165#nervous_system.
4 Maibach, Howard I.., Hostynek, Jurij J.. Copper and the Skin. United Kingdom: CRC Press, 2006.