Protecting LOS oxidized pendants?

by Ivan Imhof
(Norwood, MA, USA)

Hi Stacy,
We made a lot of nice LOS oxidized copper jewelry and we have complaint from customers that the dark oxidized patina starts to fade quickly (in 1-2 days). Is there any special way to apply the LOS to make the dark oxidized surface more durable?

We even tried to use clear Rust-o-leum spray (2 coats) and it took only a week until the dark started to fade again...

I saw Permalac mentioned often in answers. Is that a more durable coating then Rust-o-leum?

Is there a difference using spray or brush-on clear coating?

Stacy's Answer:

One of the banes of copper Ivan is that it oxidizes very quickly earning it the distinction of being called, "the dirty metal". The protective coating that I've found that best prevents, or at least greatly slows down the process of copper continuing to oxidize under it is the Permalac lacquer from Peacock Labs.

Spraying, brushing on or dipping the lacquer will provide a durable, virtually invisible protective coat. But working with Permalac can be tricky and requires some patience and time investment. Before applying the lac coating, dip your finished pieces in acetone and then let dry to clean the metal. This helps to get a really good bond of the lacquer. You'll find more info on using the lacquer in my Q&A section on Patinas and Protective Coatings - Sealing Copper Patina, question. (just type in Permalac in my website search window)

If any moisture gets between the metal and the lacquer while it's being applied, it dries with a milky look. Because I live in a very humid area, brush or dip lacquer application works best for me. As long as you have a well-ventilated, moisture-free environment, spraying is fast and works great.

I usually apply 2 coats of the product on items that are subjected to a lot of rubbing or handling, like a cuff bracelet. That being said, I do not know how the product would hold up on a ring shank as I do not make rings with copper shanks. Hands are subjected to more abuse (washing, perspiration, have lotions, soaps etc. rubbed on them) so I'm of the opinion that naked metal would be better. Even karated gold and Sterling silver can leave a green mark around a finger due to the alloy's copper content.

The product is available in both a satin (shiny) and matte finish. I have copper pieces that are years old with a Permalac coating and they still look great!

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