Material Properties

rare earth minerals

Here’s a list of some of the most commonly used jewelry materials and their properties.


I love copper, and copper will remain the base from which Vagabond Jewelry works. It is flexible, friendly, and takes color well. It is not good for folks who spend a lot of time either at the seashore or in a pool- both chlorine and salt water will tend to turn it green.

It will, if you sweat, leave a light green mark on your wrist- this comes off with water. Very seldom a pendant or neckpiece will leave a mark- that’s just the way body chemistry balances out. As long as you avoid chlorine and salt water, the colors you see on your piece will last.

Stainless Steel

Incredibly strong, stainless steel is actually one of the toughest steels around. It also doesn’t rust, corrode, or tarnish. This makes it an ideal material for the toughest crowds. It takes a finish similar to silver, and has been used extensively in high fashion and boutique jewelry. Steel, due to it’s strength, must be forged while hot- that’s right, this is the forging that you think of when you think of a blacksmith.

That means a constant heat source, tongs, gloves, and plenty of protection. This allows for even more shapes than can be achieved in copper, but it is, without a doubt, a more time consuming process.


Brass is an alloy made mostly of copper, but with a yellow color. I use it sometimes when I want that color, otherwise it seldom shows up here. It has many of the same properties as copper, but is a harder material, and does not take quite as well to forging. Brass alloys can contain nickel, as such, it is not recommended for folks with allergies to metal.

Sterling Silver

Not as tough as the other metals we use here, but sterling makes up for that in beauty. Because it does not take well to forging, there is a limit to which kinds of designs can be done with silver, but we do use it occasionally. Feel free to inquire about custom orders.


Causes allergies in some people. If you’ve ever had a reaction to any kind of jewelry, you are probably allergic to nickel, and should stay away from my nickel pieces. I use it because I like the color and enjoy the freedom of an easy to work with, relatively cheap, very strong white metal. It should never be worn around chlorine, as it will etch.


Aluminum very quickly develops a very thin layer of light gray tarnish- and then it stays that way forever. Ideal for surfers, lifeguards, and folks who spend a lot of time around cleaning supplies. Aluminum is strong and light- but does not take well to forging. Most of my designs on aluminum feature printing techniques. This material does not take patinas or colors, as such has a clean, modern feel to it.

Recycled Materials

When metals show up in my shop, I almost always use them. If I know exactly what they are, they will be filed under that metal; if I don’t, they’ll be labeled as “recycled”. This means that I’m not sure of their exact alloy. I’ll share whatever information I have about their make-up.