Bronze is an alloy of copper and tin, and jewelry made of it will tarnish with time. The tarnish is a greenish layer of copper oxide formed when bronze comes into contact with oxygen and is called patina. Let’s see how you should clean and care for your bronze jewelry, and how you can remove its patina in case you prefer a shinier look for your bronze pieces.
Cleaning Dirt from Your Bronze Jewelry
Cleaning bronze is pretty straightforward. First, use a jewelry polishing cloth to wipe your bronze jewelry. Then apply some mild soap to the piece, and rub it to take out any dirt that has accumulated.
After the item is cleaned, rinse it with water, and dry it using a towel.
Polishing Bronze While Preserving Its Patina
Some people like the patina that accumulates on bronze. Once formed, this layer can actually protect bronze from corrosion.
If you want to keep the patina on your bronze jewelry, do not clean it with any household cleaners. Just use a dry cloth to wipe gently the dirt off the item, and then clean the hard-to-reach spots with a soft brush.
Before polishing your bronze jewelry, make sure it is completely dry. Apply a thin layer of paste wax on the surface of the piece (you can use a clean paintbrush).
After covering the item with wax, let it dry, and then buff your jewelry with a soft cloth.
Removing Bronze Patina Using Lemon Juice
To clean the patina on your bronze jewelry, start by washing it with warm water to remove any dirt, and then dry the piece.
Take a small bowl, and put 2-3 tablespoons of baking soda in it. Pour a little lemon juice, and mix it with the soda until you make a paste.
Rub the paste onto your bronze jewelry, and keep rubbing until the item is clean; you can use a toothbrush or a cloth. Then leave the item with the paste on for about half an hour before rinsing the jewelry and drying it with a cloth.
If the patina is persistent, you might need to repeat the entire process until the tarnish goes away. You can also try soaking the piece in some vinegar for about an hour before scrubbing it with a toothbrush.
Storing Bronze Jewelry
When taking off your bronze jewelry after wearing it, wipe the pieces clean with a soft cloth before storing them. This should be done to remove any traces of oils from your skin as they may speed up the tarnishing of bronze.
Since the tarnishing process is facilitated by the oxygen in the air, it is advisable to keep your bronze jewelry in a plastic bag to slow down the formation of patina. You can also put an anti-tarnishing strip in the bag.
Make sure you wipe your bronze jewelry dry before storing it: Leaving it to dry in contact with the air makes it easier for patina to form.
Photo Credit: © Claireliz / Fotolia