MATERIAL CARE & INFO
Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc that works great for jewelry because it has a lovely warm color, almost resembling yellow gold, yet it is tough and far more affordable. Because it is so durable, it is great as a ring material for those who do heavy work with their hands, and as a cuff material because it can withstand bending and stretching. The surface color naturally darkens with age, and this is sped up by contact with skin. Natural body oils and chemicals found in body products will also slowly add to the patina and dull the polish on your piece. Surprisingly, though, brass rings stay shiny and burnished if worn regularly! In general, to maintain the polished shine, I recommend removing your brass jewelry before washing, swimming, sleeping, or sweating. It can be polished again using an all-purpose jewelry polishing cloth, or even brass polishing solution, which can be found at a hardware store. If only worn occasionally, consider keeping your brass pieces in an air-tight ziploc bag, or wrapped inside a jewelers polishing cloth.
Brass can sometimes create what's known as "skin staining", when a green mark is left on the skin after extended wear. This is a non-toxic reaction and it is not an allergy. It has to do with skin chemistry and is more likely to happen to people with higher acidity levels in their skin or during hot and humid conditions. The humidity causes oxides to form from the copper in the brass, and this gets rubbed off onto the skin in the form of a green stain. If your brass ring is big and chunky, or too tight for you, the chance of staining is greater as there is more moisture to get trapped under there. But again, the staining is natural and non-toxic, and can be removed with soap and water. If this is something you’d like to avoid, Arcos now offers gold plating on all brass pieces.
Gold Plating -
A new offering for Arcos, this is a thin layer of real gold that is electrochemically bonded to the surface of the solid brass piece of jewelry. Arcos currently uses 12K or 14K gold to approximate the lovely color of natural brass (higher gold content plating starts to look too orange.) The pieces are treated to the thickest layer of gold offered by the plating company, meaning it has the longest wear possible and is many times thicker than the quality generally used on fashion jewelry. Plating is wonderful because it stays bright, does not darken, and creates a dreamy, protective layer of gold against your skin which prevents the green/black coloring brass can cause on your body. However, it should be treated with care. It will crack if pieces are bent or stretched, which means gold plated cuffs cannot be adjusted, and plated rings cannot be resized. With extended, repeated use, it will gradually wear off against the skin, revealing the brass base. If that happens, simply get in touch for a complimentary re-plating. With gentle wear and care, these pieces should last you for years to come.
Sterling Silver -
Sterling is made of 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% of metal alloy, most commonly copper. It has very low reaction with body chemistry and is considered hypoallergenic, which is why Arcos uses it on all earring posts and backs. As a ring material it is unlikely to cause rashes or color skin for the average wearer. Those with extremely sensitive skin may find it causes a reaction. Though uncommon, high enough acid levels in the body can tarnish silver, which in turn can rub off on the skin.
It is softer than brass and can scratch and bend if not worn carefully. If you'd like to avoid surface scratches, I recommend storing your sterling piece in a separate pouch or box. Keep it away from bleach, ammonia and chlorine products, which will tarnish it. Remove your sterling before using household cleaners or swimming in chlorinated pools. Eventually sterling will darken on its own, but the patina can be removed with a non-abrasive jewelry polishing cloth or tarnish-removing silver cleaner.
10K Gold -
Made up of 10 parts gold out of 24, this alloy is a little less than half pure gold. This means that it is tougher than 14K and higher and withstands wear better. It has a slightly paler color than brass but slightly richer color than 14K. Holds a polish nicely and may take on a slight deepening of color with age, which can be polished up with a cloth or cleaning solution.