Beautiful, Affordable Handmade Holiday Gifts to Suit All Styles: 6 Reasons to Make Copper Jewelry

My Mama and I spent all day Saturday shopping at open houses, art shows, and even a holiday market in a big pretty barn. It was the official kickoff of our Christmas shopping, and I love seeing what talented crafters and jewelry artists are making for the season. I saw lots of metal stamped jewelry, lots of sleek jewelry featuring big gemstone crystals, and lots of tassel jewelry. No surprises there, right? Those are all popular jewelry trends this year.

Speaking of trends, I also saw something I’d never seen before: my mom interested in all kinds of copper and rose gold jewelry. Mama is a classic lady–she wears pearls nearly every day, just like I do–so it was interesting for me to see the other pieces that she was drawn to. Almost all of them were rosy pink metal, either rose gold or copper.

learn to make the copper Peacock Wheels necklace by Rachel Nelson-Smith

Peacock Wheels necklace by Rachel Nelson-Smith

Seeing how enamored she was with them reminded me of how much I love to make copper, how timeless copper jewelry can be, and how broad its appeal is. Here are six features of copper jewelry to recommend it for your holiday gifts and beyond–along with a glimpse at inspiring copper jewelry designs from Contemporary Copper Jewelry by Sharilyn Miller.

  1. Colorful: Copper takes a patina like no other metal. You can create patinas on copper using liver of sulfur and other patina solutions; natural household items like salt, vinegar, ammonia, even potato chips; and my favorite, heat patina from a torch flame. You can also color copper easily using enamel, nail polish, paint, alcohol inks, colored pencils (followed by flame), and many other materials.


make the copper and gemstone Elemental necklace by Dale "Cougar" Armstrong

Elemental necklace by Dale “Cougar” Armstrong

  1. Textural: I’ve said before–and you’ve surely experienced for yourself–that copper takes texture like a dream. Annealed copper is so soft, you can literally form it with your bare hands, and many things you have around the house with pretty textures can imprint on it. Have you seen my copper texture experiments using average things you have around the house?


  1. Affordable: Even though the price has risen with copper’s popularity in recent years, it’s still much, much more affordable to make copper jewelry than silver and a mere fraction of the cost of gold. You’ll also feel freer to practice, play, and experiment on copper because it’s so affordable.


make the copper Leaf Link bracelet by Sharilyn Miller

Leaf Link bracelet by Sharilyn Miller

  1. Forgiving: Copper’s affordability adds to it being forgiving, partly because it doesn’t matter if you mess up using supplies that cost so little. But I’ve also found that if I mess up a piece of copper, I can generally add a heat patina that is so pretty and colorful, the mistakes are minimized or completely hidden. If you mess up really badly, enamel it! And if all else fails, cut the offending copper design into small pieces, heat them with a torch until they ball up, and use the balls as decoration on other designs.


learn to make the Sombrero Ring by Sharilyn Miller

Sombrero Ring by Sharilyn Miller

  1. Trendy: Rose gold is currently enjoying its turn in the spotlight (again) with designers of fine jewelry, art jewelry, and fashion jewelry, and bare, high-polished copper looks very much the same as rose gold. The protective sprays used to preserve patinas on copper can also preserve that bare, bright finish.


  1. Stylish: Stylish and trendy are not the same thing, but fortunately, copper is both. Copper jewelry made in classic shapes and timeless designs can also have a trendy edge if you make them in copper. So the on-trend copper jewelry you make for gifts or to sell at shows now can still be fashionable in years to come.
make the Coin Pearl Copper Washer bracelet by Sharilyn Miller

Coin Pearl Copper Washer bracelet by Sharilyn Miller

If you have a lot of copper jewelry to make for holiday gifts or to sell, get Sharilyn Miller’s book Contemporary Copper Jewelry. It contains over 20 inspiring copper jewelry projects with complete step-by-step instructions (including all of the jewelry designs shown here), along with specific information to help you work with copper wire, copper sheet and purchased findings, and to mix copper with gems and other metals. You’ll also learn many bonus techniques and tips to make copper jewelry at all skill levels–everything from basic wireworking to how to make easy bangles out of copper tubing/pipe and more. This five-star-rated book even comes with a free instructional DVD–or you can get the digital book with a video download if you prefer digital!

Photos by Joe Coca.

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