Copper is the oldest metal known to man, dating back over 10,000 years. Copper jewelry making is just as old. Using copper for jewelry was already around before Jesus’ time. That’s how long we’ve had a relationship with this particular metal. A copper pendant dating from around 8700 B.C. was discovered in northern Iraq.
Around 8000 B.C., Neolithic man is said to have first used copper as a stone replacement. Around 4000 B.C., the study of metallurgy was born when copper was melted and molded into shapes in Egypt. The Bronze Age began in 3500 B.C. when ores were smelted with fire and charcoal, and copper was alloyed with tin to form bronze.
Cyprus provided the Romans with copper. It was known as aes Cyprium, which means “Cyprus metal.” It was abbreviated to cyprium. Later, cyprium was altered to coprum, which became known as copper in English.
Copper was used to make many ordinary objects in ancient Egypt, including water jugs, hand mirrors, razors, and chisels used to level the limestone stones of the enormous pyramids. It also played a role in agriculture. Crops were harvested with copper picks and hoes in this world and the next. 168 small metal farming equipment were discovered in King Tut’s tomb, buried with him to serve him in the afterlife.
Greek troops fought with bronze armor and weaponry. At the decisive battle of Salamis, bronze rams on the prows of their speedy galleys helped defeat the Persian fleet. The Egyptians used copper-alloy devices to undertake complicated medical operations, and copper in various forms was a staple in their medicine cabinets. In the ancient world, food was cooked and served in bronze or brass cookware. To avoid disease growth, water was – and still is – held in copper and brass jars.
Ancient potentates and persons of high status may admire themselves and their copper jewelry in bronze mirrors. This is because their clothing was held together with copper alloy fittings.
History of Copper Jewelry Making
Copper or copper alloy coins were used by early local commerce and later globe travelers. Nations throughout the world continue to do so today. Around the first century A.D., copper metallurgy flourished in South America, particularly in Peru. The use of hammering and annealing can be seen in ceremonial and ornamental artifacts (heating and cooling to soften and temper the metal).
During the reigns of the Mayans, Incans, and Aztecs in Central and South America, copper was most alloyed with gold and silver.
Copper, the oldest known metal, is said to have been the first metal used by man 10,000 years ago. According to evidence, the ancient Greeks had superior smelting skills—copper related to Aphrodite, the Greek goddess, and Venus, her Roman equivalent. Copper was utilized in Ancient Egypt for jewelry and body ornamentation to ward off evil and demonstrate social standing.
Copper pendants have been discovered dating back to 8700 BC, and both Incan and Aztec soldiers felt that wearing copper boosted their agility and skill in battle. Copper has long been prized for its beauty and shine, making it ideal for decoration. Copper’s gorgeous earthy tone also has a relaxing and reassuring effect; thus, most people like the warm glow of copper for their homemade jewelry items. Its distinct color makes it ideal for accenting objects made of other minerals such as silver and gold.
Copper is softer than silver, with a Mohs scale grade of 2.5-3. The metal keeps its finish well and tarnishes slowly if maintained away from dampness and humidity. Copper is also said to have therapeutic properties, is inexpensive and plentiful, comes in a range of plated hues, and develops a lovely green to blue patina as it ages, making it a favorite metal among jewelry designers.
Some Tools and Supplies for Making Copper Jewelry
If you’re planning to get into it, you’ll be concerned about soldering tools and other such things. For the time being, we’ll look at what any jewelry designer or artisan could need to get started with copper jewelry manufacturing and the usual instruments.
When working with copper – or any valuable metal for jewelry-making – nylon jaw pliers are essential. The jaws are entirely wrapped in nylon, like traditional pliers. This prevents nicking the soft metal and keeps your piece in excellent condition.
A wire end rounder, also known as a file, is a file with a small circular groove at the end that holds the filing bits. It’s used to round your wire and remove burrs from the end. A standard file can also be used.
A ball-peen hammer or a chasing hammer be used to hammer metal.
When hammering, you use a steel bench block to place under your item. You’ll need a sturdy block that won’t (or won’t give in very much) to your pounding so that the metal truly yields. Place a leather sandbag beneath the bench block (if you want). The leather provides slip resistance. In addition, it reduces the impact and noise of your hammering.
Which jewelry wires should you use?
Before you start making copper jewelry, you need to familiarize yourself with common jewelry terminologies and wire types. Round wire is the most common type. This copper wire is shaped like a circle and is the most adaptable of all wires. Square wires are used to create a more stable and attractive foundation. Half-round is another popular shape. You’ll need round wire for these copper jewelry manufacturing ideas.
Copper wire is available in three hardnesses: hard, half-hard, and dead soft. You’ll prefer dead soft for many jobs because it’s the easiest to work with and conforms the best. However, you’ll want something a little tougher for items like earwires, which require the most stability and may not be pounded.
The gauge of your wire refers to its thickness. The thinner the wire, the higher the gauge. A thick, 14–16-gauge base is ideal. 20-22 gauge is a narrower gauge that holds together well and is ideal for findings. The 24–28-inch width is ideal for wrapping. If you need more help with tools and supplies, check out this other jewelry tools guide.