People often ask me why I use brass in 99% of my work. Well, the answer is simple and has two parts.
First – brass is naturally hypoallergenic. I have sensitive skin, sometimes even Sterling silver can irritate me. So when choosing materials to use in my jewelry design, I take that into consideration. After all, I am first and foremost, a buyer, lover and wearer of jewelry! Brass is naturally lead-free; an alloy of copper and zinc. Most people that have allergic reactions to metal jewelry are experiencing a nickel allergy. There is no nickel in brass and most people do not experience allergies to it. There are a few folks out there with a brass allergy and this can be alleviated by coating the brass with a protective layer of clear coat.
Second – brass is also eco-friendly! Nowadays most brass that makes it into the market is recycled – approximately 90%!. Also with no lead content, it does not cause lead leaching into the water system, there’s no lead dust blowing around the foundry. Both silver and gold mining have horrible by-products such as lead and cyanide. Since brass is an alloy of copper and zinc and those ore deposits do not contain lead, their processing is significantly more “earth friendly” than gold and silver.
A third (bonus!) reason is cost. It is significantly cheaper than gold or silver (though slightly more expensive than copper). Brass also has a lovely gold color that can be left shiny and bright or antiqued to gorgeous shades of green, blue and warm browns. It’s versatility combined with proportionally low cost makes brass a smart choice for jewelry. It has been for thousands of years!