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Is 85% copper 15% zinc jewelry toxic?

December 29, 2008

Hello! I do metal forging with a hammer and steel block...no heat...to create my jewelry designs. I had no idea zinc was poison. Most of my work is with jewelers brass, 85% copper 15% zinc. As jewelery is worn against the skin...can the zinc be toxic as the metal could absorb into the skin such as a derma-patch would do. What about copper? Thanks so much!

Diane Gatewood
artist - jewelry designer

December 29, 2008

Hi, Diane. Copper and zinc are essential trace nutrients, they are not poisons. That does not mean they are safe and recommended in every possible situation, though. Zinc is taken to ward off colds, but inhaling zinc fumes from welding can cause a flu-like sickness. Lots of people wear copper bracelets, some of them even believing that it is helpful against arthritis, but if you cook acidic foods in copper, it can dissolve into the food in excess.

I have never heard of any concern about copper or brass jewelry except that it tarnishes and can turn the skin green as sweat dissolves some of the copper. You may want to put a clear coat on your jewelry to forestall the tarnish, but I don't believe it's dangerous to you or the wearer.


Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

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