Copper Ore Necklace

October 13, 2010

Copper Ore Necklace

Primitive elegance:  This Copper Ore Necklace has a curved, articulated collar-type neckpiece of forged 6, 12, and 14-gauge copper wire with handmade copper ore beads.  The front pendant is 1.75 inches long.  Its is made of three metallic ores.  All are rather soft and are usually found only in small pieces, so they are rarely made into beads, though they are sometimes cut as cabochons.  The large bead is purple metallic cuprite that I collected at an old mine dump at Helvetia, AZ.  It has minor inclusions of malachite and other fine-grained green copper minerals.  As a gemstone, metallic dark purple or reddish cuprite is usually present in small amounts in mixed copper ores, and is probably best known in old material from Bisbee, AZ.  Flaming red cuprite is characteristic of “Sonoran Sunrise” gemmy copper ore from Sonora, Mexico. 

The two smaller beads are chalcopyrite (gold) and covellite (dark blue), both from Peru.  Chalcopyrite looks very similar to pyrite but is a deeper gold and tends to tarnish more readily, becoming dark yellow, brown, blue, or purple.  Covellite is unmistakable for its deep metallic blue, often striped with gray chalcocite (another copper ore) and flecked with golden pyrite crystals.

The back pendant was cut from a large tumbled pebble of mixed blue copper ores from Peru.  It appears to be mostly chrysocolla with minor turquoise.  The dark flecks are cuprite. 

The copper was hot-forged, pickled in vinegar, and polished.  It will tarnish to a beautiful warm brown with wear.  The large front piece is minutely pitted from the forging process but I chose not to remove these, partly because it would have meant a couple of days of sanding with emery paper for a result that wouldn’t have looked much different, and partly because I didn’t want to lose any of the graceful tapered shape of the forged metal.

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2 Responses to “Copper Ore Necklace”

  1. Debbie said

    Never heard of pickling copper in vinegar – would that work for my revereware pans?

  2. ironwing said

    Probably, if they are soaked in it for awhile – it doesn’t work instantly. But if they have been overheated enough to show firescale (dark red or black patterns that seem to be within the metal, not just brown tarnish sitting on the surface), the copper may have begun to delaminate and you might make the problem worse.

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