Copper is an essential nutrient, which means the human body needs it to survive and function properly. Copper deficiency can have a negative effect on health, as can ingestion of too much copper. Jewellers often advertise copper jewellery for its health benefits, as do alternative medicine gurus. Besides proved and claimed benefits of copper jewellery, cons are associated with the metal as well.
Copper jewellery has been used throughout recorded history and across multiple cultures as a pain relief agent. Few scientific studies have been conducted on whether copper jewellery does provide pain relief benefits. Because so few studies have been done, it is difficult to researchers to say whether any positive results found in their studies were due to legitimate benefits of copper, or simply due to the placebo effect (the phenomenon of patient improvement solely due to psychological reasons, without actual treatment). However, there is a vast base of anecdotal evidence for pain relief due to wearing copper jewellery.
Copper jewellery has no negative effect on health. Copper is actually antimicrobial, which means it kills or guards against micro-organisms like bacteria, fungi and viruses. Copper jewellery is extremely sanitary and doesn't cause infections when worn upon the skin. Though it is possible to ingest too much copper orally and suffer copper poisoning, the element is not absorbed easily through the skin. Wearing copper jewellery does not contribute to or increase your risk of copper poisoning.
The primary con of copper jewellery is the possibility of skin discolouration. Copper reacts with oxygen in the air in a process called oxidation. When exposed to sweat and oils from skin, the oxidation process leaves behind a layer of copper carbonate on the jewellery wearer's skin, turning it temporarily green. Keeping copper jewellery clean can help guard against the possibility of skin discolouration.
Copper allergies are relatively rare. Many people who experience an allergic reaction to jewellery are actually allergic to nickel, which is a common jewellery component. However, copper can also irritate the skin and cause allergic reaction. The most typical symptom associated with copper allergy is irritation of the skin around the jewellery, often leading to red marks on the skin, then blisters if untreated.