There is a wide variety of metals you can use for jewelry. But many beginners often choose cheap metals to begin their craft. One of these cheap metals is brass, which is the cheapest and most common metal for jewelry.
As you start to make more jewelry, you will find that brass is a popular option for jewelers globally. It is because of its attractive neutral color and affordability among precious metals. And although brass is less valuable than silver and gold, it is as trendy as the two!
Throughout the years, brass remains a popular metal among artisans in creating decorative pieces. You can find it in kitchenware, musical instruments, lamps, and many more! Until now, brass is increasingly famous in fashion for handmade and customized jewelry.
Brass is a fashion staple for most women’s jewelry collections. Even men have them in their stack of accessories! It offers a beautiful, classic look that can elevate your fashion style even on a casual day.
But, keep in mind that brass is a metal alloy that contains zinc and copper. It means that the properties of brass jewelry depend on the percentage of copper and zinc. These percentages also affect how jewelers make use of brass to create different kinds of jewelry.
Most likely, you are already familiar with brass’s appearance. But you also need to know the few drawbacks that can affect your pieces and their wearers. Please continue reading if you want to find out more about it in this post!
List of Contents:
Is brass an alloy?
Brass is an alloy of zinc and copper. It is a substitutional alloy, meaning that the copper and zinc contents may replace each other within the same structure. The proportions can vary depending on what the manufacturer wants to achieve.
How much is brass per pound?
As of the fourth of April of 2021, brass scraps cost $1.68 per pound. But, you need to note that scrap metal prices constantly change. Depending on the market of the different metals, some of them may increase or decrease in prices.
But if you do not want to buy scrap metals, you can always choose to buy from Amazon. You will find brass rods and bars, which usually cost around $10 to $50, depending on their length and width.
Is brass cheaper than copper?
Among the three common red metals used in jewelry, copper is the most expensive. So, yes, brass is cheaper than copper. The percentage of copper in brass and bronze is far lower than in copper, which reduces their costs.
Copper jewelry is quite affordable and comes in different beautiful designs. But it is more costly compared to its alloys. So if you are looking for the cheapest material, you can choose brass.
Is brass cheaper than steel?
Brass is more expensive than steel because of its flexibility and other outstanding qualities. Unlike brass, steel is more difficult to cast and work with machines, which may be a challenge to many jewelers.
Steel is cheaper because it is less delicate than brass. It is far more rigid and robust, which is why it is less efficient with machines. And unlike brass, steel rusts easily.
Is brass cheaper than bronze?
Since zinc is cheaper than copper, the greater its percentage is, the less the metal costs. Since brass contains zinc, while bronze does not, it is cheaper than bronze. Since bronze is more costly, it has higher esteem and is usually more desirable.
Is brass cheaper than stainless steel?
Stainless steel is more durable and resilient compared to brass. It is an iron alloy mixed with chromium and nickel, which makes it stronger. Because of its nature, you will find that brass is cheaper than stainless steel.
Uses of Brass:
As you may have noticed by now, manufacturers widely use brass in decorative and mechanical applications. Common uses of brass include applications that only require low friction, like fittings and tools.
- Ammunition casings
Because brass is non-magnetic and low-friction, you will discover that it easily rolls into thin sheets. Manufacturers can form them into cartridge shells and recycle them for ammo reloading.
- Marine hardware
For centuries, manufacturers create brass for marine hardware. They form the metal into sheathing to use for the wooden naval ships’ hulls. You can find brass used for navigational tools and even on engines and pumps in today’s marine hardware.
- Electronic components
Brass’s malleable and non-magnetic nature is also ideal for making electrical components. It also helps that it costs less than silver and gold, making it an excellent material choice. You can see brass used in panelboards, sockets, and many more.
- Radiator cores, tubes, and tanks
Many manufacturers prefer using brass rather than aluminum because they cost less and are easier to manipulate. Brazed copper-brass also last longer and are much easier to recycle, making them more energy-efficient.
- Musical instruments
Brass is also an excellent material for musical instruments because of its acoustic properties. Its flexibility and durability are also ideal for making a wide variety of instruments.
- RV water pressure regulator and elbow fittings
Since brass is much tougher than plastic, it is also an ideal material for fittings. They can stand up to high water pressure and reduce them to a manageable level for RVs.
- Technical instruments
Brass’s non-magnetic qualities make it an excellent material to create technical instruments. Manufacturers can easily work with it and engrave permanent indicator marks for measuring tools.
Thanks to its gold, red, and silver tones, many jewelers also use brass for their pieces. It is ductile, so jewelers can easily manipulate it to make various designs. Its corrosion-resistant nature is another ideal characteristic for jewelry making.
Is brass a good metal for jewelry?
Because of its flexibility, brass is a good metal for jewelry. You can manipulate it with relative ease into any design you want for your jewelry. You can even twist it into intricate forms and cuts or chunky figures for your statement pieces.
Brass is also corrosion and rust-resistant, which is a desirable trait for good-quality jewelry. Brass jewelry can hold up well to regular wear without deteriorating too quickly. It also has a beautiful golden that can offer a rustic vintage look.
Is brass magnetic?
Since copper and zinc are both non-magnetic elements, their alloy, brass, is also non-magnetic. But, also like copper and zinc, it does interact with a moving magnetic field. It happens because the magnet’s movement sets up an electrical current in the brass.
So, unless a strong or moving magnet is present, your brass should not be magnetic. If it is, the manufacturer likely used a magnetic element to make the brass.
Is brass hypoallergenic?
Unfortunately, brass is not hypoallergenic. It can cause allergic reactions because of the copper and zinc it contains. The copper can turn your skin green, but it is not as toxic as other materials. It only means that your skin’s moisture is reacting with the metal.
If you are still considering buying brass jewelry, there are simple ways to prevent your skin from turning green. You can apply a thin coat of clear nail polish to prevent the metal from reacting with your skin.
Is brass jewelry durable?
Brass may be far from being stiff, but it is a reasonably hard metal. Although it somewhat stretches, it will not easily crack or break under pressure. As a result, brass jewelry is durable. If you can maintain your brass under ideal conditions, it will last a relatively long time.
If you want to ensure the longevity and durability of your brass jewelry, you need to avoid certain conditions and chemicals. Exposure to moisture, acidic, and salty environments can also negatively affect your brass pieces.
It would be best if you also tried to avoid chemicals like perfumes and lotions because they can react with your jewelry’s components. Storing your brass jewelry in a dry, airtight container will also help preserve them.
Brass jewelry pros and cons:
Since you are here to know more about brass, the cheapest metal for jewelry, I am more than happy to list its pros and cons. Here are some of them to help you decide if brass jewelry is worth your money.
- Corrosion-resistant. The zinc and copper components of brass are both non-corrosive metals. As a result, brass jewelry is also corrosion-resistant. Some manufacturers even add aluminum to the alloy to reinforce its corrosion resistance.
- Beautiful color. Although it may not be as expensive as other precious metals, brass possesses a beautiful color. It has a subtle yet attractive yellow shine like gold. Because of this pleasant appearance, brass somehow carries some class and elegance with it.
- Affordable. Other than its beautiful color, brass’s affordable price also adds to its attractiveness. You can get gold’s classic high-end gleam for a much lower price!
- Durable. Do not let its affordability fool you. Brass has incredible tensile strength and will not easily break or crack under pressure. If you can maintain it well under ideal conditions, it can even endure a lifetime.
- It is non-hypoallergenic. Like other metals, there are also some disadvantages to brass jewelry. Because it contains zinc and copper, people with sensitive skin may experience allergic reactions. But, note that it is a problem with unfinished brass.Sometimes, you will discover other additives such as nickel that cause the reaction. You might want to try on pure brass pieces instead of a nickel alloy.But, if you already bought brass pieces with nickel, you can do things to prevent allergic reactions. You can apply clear nail polish to your brass jewelry to protect your skin from metals.
- It tarnishes. Unfinished brass will inevitably tarnish over time. As it ages, it will lose its shine and begin forming a greenish layer called patina. It is a result of the copper’s oxidation. But you can always clean and polish it if you do not like the vintage look.