Are brass earrings safe for everyday wear? We have the answers and details about things to know before you buy any type of brass jewelry.
Are Brass Earrings Safe?
The short answer is yes, brass earrings are safe. But there are drawbacks to this cost-effective alloy that could leave your skin looking a little green and possibly itchy. Keep reading to find out if brass jewelry is a suitable addition to your jewelry box.
In This Article
What is Brass Jewellery?
Brass Jewellery is a type of jewelry made from brass, an alloy of copper and zinc base metals. Copper is rarely used on its own in metal jewelry despite its pretty color because of its frequent and sometimes rapid oxidation. However, when copper is combined with small amounts of zinc, it becomes more stable and forms the yellow metal we know as brass.n
Brass jewelry often has a warm, yellow-gold color that can vary in shades depending on the specific ratio of copper, zinc, and any other trace metals used. Over a long time period, brass may develop a patina, which can range from brown to green, adding character to the piece of jewelry.n
Brass is a durable and strong type of metal, making it suitable for various jewelry types, including rings, necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. It is less prone to scratching and tarnishing compared to some other metals.
Is Brass Good for Jewelry?
Brass is a great metal because it is noncorrosive, meaning it won’t oxidize quickly and it is a sustainable metal choice because 75-85% of its value can be reclaimed when recycled. This makes it a popular choice for trendy costume jewelry that may not be kept for very long. n
One of the best characteristics of brass as an alloy is its versatility. Bass has the ability to be punched, shaped, and easily worked into a variety of different shapes and designs. This makes brass an ideal choice for fashion jewelry like earrings with intricate patterns and delicate designs. n
Brass is also a durable and strong metal, making it suitable for various jewelry types, including rings, necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. It is less prone to scratching and tarnishing compared to some other metals.n
Proper Care for Brass Jewelry
Brass jewelry requires occasional maintenance to retain its luster. Regular cleaning and polishing can help prevent tarnish, and proper storing will help maintain its longevity.
To clean brass jewelry, use a soft cloth and warm water with mild dish soap for stubborn grime. Make sure to thoroughly dry your jewelry before storing it.
When cleaning your brass earrings or other jewelry, make sure to avoid bringing it in contact with vinegar, lemon juice, or other acidic substances, as they can damage the look of the brass.
Based on the unique composition of metals making up your brass jewelry, there is a chance it may be more likely to oxidize and turn skin green after wear. However, this is not a definitive indicator of metal allergies.
The green discoloration is simply oxidation residue that has rubbed off onto the surface of the skin and can usually be removed right away with warm water and soap, depending on how long the jewelry has been in contact with the skin.n
One protective and preventative measure you can take with your brass jewelry is to add a coat of clear nail polish after each wear and wash. This will reduce the likelihood of a skin reaction by adding an extra barrier on the parts of the earrings or jewelry that come in contact with your skin the most.
Adding this protective coating to your jewelry will also reduce tarnishing and protect against scratches on the jewelry, which helps extend the total longevity of your jewelry.
moisture is the biggest concern when it comes to properly storing your jewelry. Keeping your brass and other metals separate in a cool, dry jewelry box will reduce the reactivity of the metals and slow any tarnishing or patina development.
Brass Jewelry & The Potential for Allergic Reactions
The potential for an allergic reaction to brass jewelry primarily depends on an individual’s body chemistry and their sensitivity to the metals that make up the brass alloy, copper, and zinc. Copper allergies are relatively common, according to the National Institute of Health, due to copper’s similarity to nickel.
Because brass is an alloy, there is a high likelihood of other trace metals being present. Nickel, for example, is one of the most common metal allergies. Unless package and manufacturer labeling specifically lists their product as “nickel free,” there is a risk of allergic reaction. n
Signs of allergic reactions to brass include skin reactions such as redness, itching, rashes, or skin irritation. Brass earrings, rings, and bracelets are more likely to trigger reactions than necklaces or pendants, which have less contact with sensitive skin.n
Gold vs. Brass Metal: Which is Better for Jewelry?
It is no surprise that gold and brass are often compared when making jewelry selections. Both can achieve a similar yellow shine and be formed into many different jewelry styles and types. Determining which is the better choice for jewelry will depend on your budget, need for hypoallergenic jewelry and personal preference. n
Solid gold, in its pure state, is too soft to be used on its own in jewelry, which is where the karat system comes in place. A common rule of thumb is to choose 14 karat gold or higher to ensure there is enough concentration of gold to achieve hypoallergenic status and minimize the chance of jewelry allergies.
However, just like we have mentioned with brass, gold is also an alloy. So, knowing which trace metals are used will play a big part in the cost of each brass or gold jewelry piece and its likelihood of causing an allergic reaction.
This is especially true for earrings or jewelry labeled as coated or gold-plated jewelry. Gold plating is a process of coating base metals with a thin layer of gold.
Hypoallergenic Metals for Jewelry
Platinum: Platinum is one of the most hypoallergenic metals available for jewelry. It is both pure and rare, making it an excellent but expensive choice for those with metal allergies and sensitive ears.n
Titanium: Titanium is a biocompatible metal that is highly resistant to corrosion and hypoallergenic. It is often used in piercing jewelry and medical implants. It is extremely tough, making it a great choice for everyday wear jewelry like engagement rings or wedding bands.
Sterling Silver: While not entirely hypoallergenic, sterling silver (92.5% pure silver) is often well-tolerated by most people. It is a popular and more affordable option. Taking a closer look at the composition and other metals used in sterling silver is the best way to minimize a possible reaction.n
Gold (14K or Higher): Pure gold is hypoallergenic, but it’s too soft for most jewelry. Gold alloys, particularly 14K or higher, are often safe choices for jewelry, with a lower likelihood of causing allergies. White gold, rose gold, and yellow gold are each a great option for jewelry metals.n
Stainless Steel (Surgical Steel): Surgical-grade stainless steel is less likely to cause allergies. It is commonly used in medical and body-piercing jewelry.
Palladium: Palladium is a precious metal that is part of the platinum group and is known for its hypoallergenic properties. It is often used in fine jewelry due to its bright white luster and durability. However, palladium is considered a rare precious metal, so buyers can expect to pay a premium for it. n
How to find the Best Earrings Made of Brass?
As with choosing any jewelry, shop for reputable brands and jewelry designers that are known for using high-quality materials. Though brass may not be a good choice for high-contact jewelry parts like earring posts due to skin sensitivity, it is possible to find brass earrings with hypoallergenic materials used for different components. A quick internet search for brass earrings or brass jewelry returns thousands of results from bespoke jewelry designers to craft marketplaces like Etsy.n
Brass Earrings + Jewelry FAQ
Does brass have nickel in it?
Brass does not typically have nickel in it. However, if you have a known nickel allergy, there are a few things you can do to check jewelry before purchasing.
- Check package labeling
- Ask the manufacturer
- Use a nickel test kit
- Check if the jewelry is magnetic
Nickel is one of the few ferromagnetic metals, meaning it will be attracted to magnets. This is not a definitive method for testing, but it is a strong indicator of nickel content if all other methods fail.
Is brass jewelry safe?
Yes, brass jewelry is safe for most people who have not shown frequent reactions to different types of metals. However, choosing a quality brass alloy following proper cleaning and storing techniques is essential to reduce any possibility of a reaction over time.
Is brass toxic when worn as Jewelry?
No, modern brass is not commonly shown to have toxic properties. However, if you are interested in collecting antique or estate jewelry, it may be worth conducting a lead test.
Historically, lead was used as a trace metal in the brass alloy to make the metal easier to manipulate. But since the 1970’s lead has been closely monitored and eliminated from most consumer goods due to health concerns.
Does brass turn your skin green?
If the ratio of copper to zinc is too high, it is likely that brass will turn skin green. This green discoloration can be easily removed if treated right away. However, if the jewelry has been worn for an extended period, it may take a day or two for the green discoloration to fade.
Does brass corrode?
Technically, yes, brass can corrode in the form of tarnish when exposed to oxygen and moisture. But brass is still considered a corrosion-resistant metal compared to other metals like copper or iron. Proper care and maintenance can help slow down the corrosion process and preserve the appearance of brass pieces.
Is sterling silver hypoallergenic?
Yes, sterling silver is often considered a hypoallergenic option for jewelry, and it is well-tolerated by most people. In rare cases, some individuals may still experience minor reactions, but this is less common than other metals, like nickel.
The two most important factors to consider when selecting sterling silver jewelry are the quality and purity of the silver. It’s important to ensure that the silver is indeed sterling (92.5% pure) and not an alloy with higher copper content or other metals.
Wise shoppers should also closely examine the piece’s description to determine if there is a thin sterling silver coating or plating over a mixture of less expensive alloys.
These types of jewelry pieces are most likely to contain ingredients that cause metal allergies, but they may not be present until time and wear has worn down the sterling silver surface of the metal.
Marly is a lifestyle writer and creator of simplylivinghappy.com, a site dedicated to helping readers improve their health, wealth, mindset, and overall happiness. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her listening to audiobooks while gardening, visiting with family, or traveling.