What is Bronze and How to Care for it
What is Bronze?
Bronze is a beautiful metal that has been around for thousands of years. Many people may be familiar with bronze in the form of large three-dimensional sculptures, such as Rodin’s “The Thinker”. For jewelry, bronze is an affordable metal with a warm, rich color.
Bronze is an alloy that consists of a mixture of copper and tin, approximately 90% copper and 10% tin. Producing bronze is a less toxic process than producing brass. Brass is a combination of copper and zinc, and the manufacturing process often produces zinc oxide which is toxic.
Our natural bronze styles are solid bronze. Our silver plated bronze and gold plated bronze both have a solid core of bronze that is then plated in fine silver or in gold.
Are your bronze styles all the same color?
Our styles that are cast in Thailand are made from a high quality Italian bronze alloy, mixed with precision instruments that ensure a consistent, top-end product.
Our handmade Bali styles use a bronze with a slightly higher ratio of copper to tin than our Thai styles. The Bali bronze formula results in a softer bronze that can be hand worked into the beautiful handmade products Balinese metal smiths are famed for. As a result, our Bali handmade bronze styles are slightly more yellow than our Thai cast bronze styles.
The alloy we use for our Thai bronze includes an anti-tarnish compound. Nevertheless, bronze will naturally tarnish and become darker over time, adding character to the metal. Our Bali bronze has more copper which makes the color less stable. We dip the Bali bronze pieces in an anti-tarnish solution that should provide protection for one year. Bronze usually changes color evenly but exposure to chemicals and certain body products may have unpredictable results.
Our bronze cast styles made in Bali use the same alloy as the Thai cast items, giving them the same coloring which makes a great match for your jewelry designs. These bronze styles also have an anti-tarnish finish. In this case, it is a clear layer of a ceramic coating.
How does your bronze compare in price to your sterling silver items?
Bronze is less expensive and has less cost volatility than precious metals like silver and gold. This allows us to price our natural bronze at a fraction of the cost of sterling silver.
All of our products are priced based on a combination of metal and labor costs. On heavier items, metal is a higher percentage of the total cost than it is for lighter items. This means on heavier items there is a bigger price difference between a bronze item and the same item in sterling silver than there is for lighter items, where metal is a smaller percentage of the total cost.
Likewise, for handmade items labor is a higher percentage of the total cost than for cast items because there is more labor involved in their production. As a result, for most of our Bali styles which are handmade there is a smaller price difference between a bronze item and the same item in sterling silver than there is for our cast items, where labor is a smaller percentage of the total cost.
Additionally, because bronze is a harder metal than silver, it can require more labor to achieve a high quality, shiny finish on a bronze item than a silver item. As a result, some of our smallest bronze styles are actually more expensive than the silver version!
Can bronze cause allergic reactions?
The quick answer is it depends on the bronze you’re wearing. Our bronze is an alloy of copper and tin. It is a high quality alloy we sourced from Italy. It is mixed with precision instruments and with the highest standards, so we can offer a product we are proud of. But a lot of antique “bronze” jewelry (and perhaps even current production from other sources) also contains nickel and zinc. Our bronze does not contain nickel or zinc.
Another thing to note is that “white bronze” contains nickel, which is what gives it the white color. To be clear, we do not use white bronze, but some of our competitors do. It is our understanding that it is the presence of the nickel or zinc that can cause allergic reactions. Please also keep in mind that everyone’s skin and body chemistry is different and will react differently to various metals.
How do you care for bronze?
One of the benefits of using bronze over other base metals is that much like sterling silver, tarnish can be easily removed with a polishing cloth. Mixed metal jewelry is still quite fashionable and the inclusion of natural bronze with precious metals allows the designer to create economical pieces that will maintain their original finish with proper maintenance.