Friday, August 20, 2010

The Age of Copper

Copper, Green Opals and Turquoise Perfect Together!

The skyrocketing price of gold and silver has made copper an alluring and affordable choice in jewelry designs in recent times. Besides, in this era of increased yearning to be one with nature, the color of copper instinctively evokes the warmth of the sun, the rustle of the autumn leaves and the swirling of the desert sands making it suitable for many types of artwork.

Copper is a naturally occurring mineral and copper was known to some of the oldest human civilizations including the Mesopotamian and the Indus Valley civilizations. The Copper Age lasted from 10000 B.C. to 3500 B.C when it was succeeded by Bronze (which is an alloy of Copper) Age. The use of copper in agricultural tools, utensils, building materials, jewelry and later on in plumbing and electrical fixtures continued well into the modern age. 

Patinated Copper Roof on the Minneapolis CIty Hall (Photo: Creative Commons)

The Statue of Liberty has 179,220 pounds of copper (Photo: Creative Commons)

In India where I spent my the first two decades of my life, copper utensils were very much part of our life. I vividly remember the big coal burning copper boiler that we used in winter months for heating water. It was a glorious piece capable of heating about 50 gallons of water and my mother always kept it polished to its full coppery sheen with salt and tamarind paste. But, copper was burdensome to maintain for the already overworked housewives and the advent of stainless steel supplanted its use in the kitchen. Which is a pity because copper is antibacterial with the ability to kill several potentially harmful pathogens. It is also an essential nutrient for human health. Copper rich food are oysters, lobsters, brazil nuts, black pepper, sunflower seeds, avacodo and green olives.

Copper is a very malleable metal and an excellent conductor of heat and electricity. It is associated with the planet Venus and is considered beneficial for promoting love, positive relationships and peace. Copper yantras (tantric designs engraved on thin copper plates) are particularly favored by the Hindus. 

In jewelry designs, copper combines fabulously with dark, rough, semi-precious stones like turquoise, green opal or lapiz lazuli. With fall around the corner, this may be the best time to incorporate copper in your art. 

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