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Red Brass Rocks!

By July 5, 2008

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Early this week, I blogged about the astronomical price of gold-filled wire these days due to the rise in real gold. Gold-filled is not pure gold or even 14kt gold, but it has enough gold in it to be dramatically affected by the rise in metal costs.

I recently ordered some brass and copper wire from Rio Grande, a pound of each, and one ounce of 21-gauge sterling wire. This is what actually prompted the blog post in the first place. I have worked with copper enough to know it was not going to replace the gold-filled for me, but I've been seeing more of it around, so I figured I'd try to use it for more than just creating prototype jewelry for a change.

One of the comments I received on the post said I should check into red brass, and I thought, bummer, I already had put in my order. But, as my dumb luck would have it, the brass I received was red brass, and I have to agree 100%. This red brass rocks!

One pound of 21-gauge red brass (which I was told only comes soft, not half or full hard) cost as much as one ounce of the sterling wire I purchased. And, let me tell you - one pound of wire is a lot of wire! It really looks and feels like gold-filled. I found it easy to manipulate, and it has that light gold coloring that you get from gold-filled.

So, if you are looking for an alternative to gold-filled, I highly recommend checking red brass. I made a chain for a necklace using the wire. We'll see how it holds up as far as tarnish, but one option is to oxidize the metal with Silver Black or Liver of Sulphur.


July 5, 2008 at 2:45 pm
(1) James Van Daele says:

Hi Tammy, Thank you so much for making that pearl cross wrap and posting it on about! As you might have been anle to tell, my original site http://www.undrilledpearls.com has been hijacked and so I had to start all over with a new one at http://www.undrilledpearls.net which is now up. If it wouldn’t be too much of a bother, is there any way you could make the link in that article go to my website, intead of the link farm the old one has become?

Thanks a ton.


July 5, 2008 at 3:07 pm
(2) Tina says:

Thanks for the heads up. Will have to check this out.

July 5, 2008 at 4:43 pm
(3) jewelrymaking says:

Let me know what you think about it.

July 6, 2008 at 10:35 am
(4) Tressa says:

Thanks for the tip! I’ve been looking for a better alternative to gold than gold-colored copper.

July 6, 2008 at 9:33 pm
(5) Carmen says:

Would you have any comments about the tarnishing problem and possible smudging of the skin? I did a bit of work with copper a long time ago (before I moved to sterling silver)but in the end had to use coated art wire. Would brass stain the skin as copper? I haven’t got any experience with it, and would need to import some from the US to try. The possibility of having a reddish gold color available is really interesting. Many thanks, C

July 7, 2008 at 6:09 am
(6) Nichole says:

Hey Tammy ;)

Was it my comment? if so, glad you shared it. It’s a “lifesaver” for those who are not picky about metals but love the look of GF.;)

i bought red brass by accident, too! and i had the same reaction. i made a bunch of ear wires with both golf filled and red brass and they where both sitting on the counter and i went “Uh-oh! which one’s which?”

but it was no problem, i dumped them in a brass oxidation solution and the brass turned cocoa brown,while the GF stayed the same, thank goodness ;)

here’s an awesome blog on given brass an aged look with household items.
Aged Brass

have fun, everyone!

July 7, 2008 at 6:19 am
(7) Nichole says:


Brass has copper in it.

it’s a copper/zinc alloy, so yes, you can have a similar, though most likely less severe, discoloration of the skin.

Artistic wire makes coated cooper and brass wire, but i’m not sure if they do red brass. You could always coat a finished piece in some kind of sealer, like krylon or allergy shield from FMG.

July 7, 2008 at 6:27 am
(8) Nichole says:


the AWESOME thing about red brass is it is solid, no worrying abotu the plating coming off eventually.

Like i said, at shows and local retail, i can hardly keep copper ( which looks like rose gold to me) and red brass in stock.

Online is less heavy for sales, seems lots of folks have discovered it, and its almost a “flooded” market. But at local shows, i always gets
“Hey, copper ( or brass)! i’ve heard so much good stuff about that! neat. It’ll take these.”

It makes me chuckle, i’m sure those who have been making for a while will remember.

I wanted to use copper or brass in a design in, hmm, it would have been 2003.

I got chewed out by my “designer” peers because of it. “no one will ever buy that, those metals are not for jewelry!”

So i made stuff for myself, and just wore it around ;)

my, how times change :)

July 7, 2008 at 7:09 am
(9) Beadydani says:

Thanks for the referal to the blog. Very informative & detailed information. I’m going to start off with the vinegar option & then move on from there.

Love the latest project by the way. I am going it for make it for myself, so I can wear it when going out this weekend.

July 11, 2008 at 10:22 am
(10) Cyndi L says:

Red brass has got to be fabulous mixed with copper, regular brass, and gunmetal! Can’t wait to try it, thanks!

July 13, 2008 at 5:09 pm
(11) Melissa says:

Oh, this is a great tip – thanks, Tammy!

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