How Do I Remove the Silver/Gold Coloring from Inexpensive Jewelry to Reveal the Copper Underneath?

by Melanie Shigeoka.
(Nanaimo BC Canada)

How Do I Remove the Silver/Gold Coloring from Inexpensive Jewelry to Reveal the Copper Underneath?  - Discussion on Jewelry Making Journal

Love this bracelet.

I love copper jewelry (actually anything copper) and I see so many beautiful rings and bracelets that after wearing for a while the silver/gold coloring wears away.

How Do I Remove the Silver/Gold Coloring from Inexpensive Jewelry to Reveal the Copper Underneath?  - Discussion on Jewelry Making Journal

I have tried so many things to try to remove it and haven’t found anything that works. Does anyone know what I can use?

How Do I Remove the Silver/Gold Coloring from Inexpensive Jewelry to Reveal the Copper Underneath?  - Discussion on Jewelry Making Journal

Rings, I can no longer wear.

I have held onto so many pieces that I can’t wear anymore because of the copper showing though and would love to be able to wear again.

I also see jewelry in thrift stores that I would love to repurchase and make pieces to sell if I could get it looking amazing in copper. Thank you.

Melanie Shigeoka

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  • Hi Melanie, you may find some helpful tips in the comments on this post: How Do I Strip Old Costume Jewelry Coating?. For any technique you experiment with for removing outer layers or coating, it’s a good idea to first do a test run on a small area on the back of your component. Then you can see how the technique will (or won’t) work on the sample, without ruining your piece.

    I hope this helps, and I’m interested in other tips and ideas for this too! 🙂

  • Judy Bjorkman says:

    Rena, your earlier discussion is very helpful. If trying steel wool, I recommend the finest grade (OOOO) — it’s not likely to leave scratches. Also, Melanie, the photos you included with your question show jewelry that, IMHO, looks pretty good as bi-color pieces, i.e., you may not need to get all of the original plating off, And, if you got most of it off, except in the crevices, try a dark patina on the piece, to cover up the plating there (this last idea is theoretical,on my part). Good luck!
    Judy Bjorkman

  • Judith says:

    I like the older pieces showing both colors due to wear. Look is ‘vintage’. Otherwise I’d use the fine steel wool as Judy suggested.

  • Margaret says:

    I’ve actually come to like the “pinkish” look of silver plate wearing off copper. I’ve even deliberately made some pieces anticipating the color change eventually.

  • Michelle says:

    Instead of removing the color, maybe you can try copper plating. This technique is used to copper plate silver solder points on copper jewelry or to copper plate an entire item. Whether it works will depend on the metal and the coating or metal plating that remains on the item. Use pickle that has turned medium to dark blue from use with copper. The darker the better. Place the item in the blue pickle. Use copper or steel tongs to hold a cotton ball sized wad of fine steel wool. While the item is in the pickle, touch (don’t rub) the steel wool to the item all over and/or leave the item next to the steel wool. Check every few minutes. The dissolved copper is repelled by the steel and attaches to other metals. Then, remove the item and neutralize it for a few seconds in water mixed with some baking soda. Rinse. The finish may be dull, so brush with a brass brush or tumble. There are many types of pickle and I’ve heard this won’t work with pickle made with alum.

    If you don’t normally use pickle and are starting from scratch, you can make pickle with a cup of white vinegar and a tablespoon of salt in a plastic, glass, or ceramic container. Place some copper wire or copper scrap in the pickle until some or all of the copper dissolves and the pickle turns blue. This means the pickle is saturated with copper. This may take hours or days. The copper may even dissolve completely. Never pour used pickle down the drain. Let it evaporate, then wipe out the sediment and put it in the trash. Good luck!

  • Michelle, thank you so much for that information! 🙂

  • Melanie Shigeoka says:

    Thank you all for you help. I will definitely keep it in mind.
    Melanie Shigeoka

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