Allergic reactions are, without doubt, the reason why some people will opt for specific kinds of jewelry over others, and also the reason why you’d be wary of buying jewelry made of a cheap base metal like brass.
In this article, we look at everything you need to know about brass jewelry and whether brass jewelry is safe or not.
Some people are vehemently against brass jewelry, but should you or should you not buy brass jewelry?
What is brass jewelry?
Before we look at the safety level of brass, let’s first look at the basics, like what is brass jewelry?
Brass is an alloy of zinc and copper and zinc, but the proportions of zinc and copper in brass is variable, which means that there are different types of brass. Also, copper and zinc aren’t the only metals used to make brass, and sometimes, metals like nickel or lead could be added to brass.
Now, brass has been around since 500 BC, and it’s been used around the world. In the Bible, for example, there are 39 references to brass. Prominent writers like Shakespeare also referenced brass. But besides having been in existence for centuries, the use of brass became popular from around the Middle Ages when brass was used quite extensively. From ancient times, brass has been used to create some of the most beautiful pieces, including scabbards and pitchers, among others.
Brass is one of the most important metals that has been around throughout human history. Brass is a metal known for its warm, yellowish tone with a gleam just as good as that of gold and a remarkable level of versatility. Thanks to its versatility, brass is not only used to make jewelry but also in making musical instruments, machinery, decorative items, as well as household jewelry. It’s worth noting that the main reason for the versatility of brass has to do not only with its semblance to gold but also its affordability and workability.
The warm golden tones of brass also make metal popular, with the warm tones creating an impression of class, sophistication, and great value, but at a lower price tag. Thanks to brass’ acoustic properties, it’s often used in making musical instruments.
It’s also been used by many cultures to make ornaments, with the Kayan Women in East Burma using brass coils to elongate their necks for beauty.
Is Brass toxic to humans?
Above all, the safety of the metal piece is quite paramount. And with brass growing a little rare on the market today, you may want to reassess the safe level of brass and whether it’s a metal option, you should opt for or not.
The good news is that lead, and even aluminum, pure brass made of copper and zinc only is non-toxic, and it doesn’t pose any risks to your health. In France, for example, pure brass was used to create healthy metal alternatives for persons wishing to indulge. Thanks to the safety levels of brass, brass accessories are not only beautiful but also safe.
Thanks to the non-toxic levels of pure or high-quality brass, brass is used to create smoking pipes, and its use is considered completely safe.
How then can you tell pure brass from unsafe brass? Well, pure brass has a natural patina that develops when brass is exposed to oxygen.
This patina appears as a blue-ish green coat, and this tells you that the brass is non-toxic and pure. Keep in mind that brass is also regarded as food-sage, and this means that you shouldn’t be concerned with its safety levels.
Is Brass safe on skin? Does brass jewelry irritate skin?
Though non-toxic and generally safe on the skin, brass might leave your skin with a green tinge, especially when you keep the brass jewelry on for long or if the jewelry comes in contact with water, sweat, oils, lotion, etc.
The reason for the color change has to do with the fact that brass is made of copper and zinc. Copper is the reason for the green tinge/ marks on the skin.
Is brass safe on the skin?
But even with the green colors on your skin, it’s important to note that brass isn’t harmful to the skin, and it will not cause any irritation.
The green color on the skin under the brass jewelry results from the reaction of brass with oxygen and the best part is that the result of the oxidation process (copper oxide) will go away a few hours after you remove the jewelry and wash up.
Now, if you hate that green color tinge from brass, you might want to apply a thin layer of clear nail polish around the areas of the jewelry that touch the skin.
Something else to note is that you won’t have any of these color change issues when wearing gold plated-brass jewelry because the rose gold or gold plating keeps the brass from being in direct contact with your skin.
Does brass jewelry cause allergies to flare up?
Besides the risk of turning your skin green, something that can be very embarrassing, it’s also important to note that brass jewelry could cause flare-ups in the skin allergies, especially if one of the metals that make up the brass jewelry is nickel.
While brass is primarily made of copper and zinc, there are jewelers who add a nickel to the copper and zinc. With such combinations, persons with nickel allergies will most definitely have allergy flare-ups.
Note that the flare-ups arise from your body coming in contact with nickel, something it recognizes as a foreign body, and as a result, your immune system goes into overdrive as it tries to protect you from the invader/ allergen.
Signs of an allergic flare-up include redness, itching, or rashes, often manifesting about two days after you start wearing the brass jewelry.
In severe cases, the brass made with nickel could cause blistering, something you really don’t want to deal with.
Is Brass good for jewelry?
The risk of turning your skin green, notwithstanding, brass is among the best and the most popular metals used in jewelry making.
The reasons for using brass in jewelry include the fact that it looks like gold, its versatility, durability, affordability, and the fact that brass allows for the creation of the most intricate jewelry designs.
Does brass jewelry have lead in it?
Generally, jewelry made of brass constitutes two metals, copper and zinc.
However, there are cases where lead is added to brass in the soldering process to hold the metal layers in place.
The brass pieces with lead are, however, typically more of the collectible antique jewelry pieces that are made of brass stampings.
All in all, is brass jewelry safe?
Yes. And with variable copper amounts incorporated with zinc to make brass, the jewelry is largely safe. With the presence of copper, you need to remember that the green hue will always be there.
But as long as the brass is free of nickel, you can wear brass jewelry safely in your body piercings.
If you want to avoid the risk of skin discoloration completely, you might like the gold-plated brass jewelry that isn’t susceptible to oxidation or irritation.
Brass jewelry is safe, as long as it’s free of nickel and lead. The good news is that most of the brass jewelry on the market today are made of copper and zinc alone, and you wouldn’t have to worry about irritation.
You could also get rid of the potential risk of skin discoloration by polishing the jewelry with a thin layer of nail polish on the areas in contact with the skin.