Jewelry Patinas
Part 2 of 2

Patina happens when jewelry has been exposed to air for a long time. The discoloration is due to oxidation. Antique jewelry will have this patina. So if it is a valuable or collectible piece don't clean it off!!! Real patina is hard to fake so it is a way to authenticate its age. Some jewelry designs may look better if they were darker and weren't shiny. So if you were inspired by yesterday's feature designer and want to learn how to patinate your jewelry, here is a look at the choices.

1. Liver of sulfur (LOS) is a popular way to patinate metal - it blackens silver well. It is actually a mixture of two chemicals - potassium trisulfide (25%) and potassium thiosulfate (hydrated) (75%). You usually buy it as a solid or a lump and then make solutions of it.

Ganoskin has an excellent article on liver of sulfur use including the do's and don'ts and using it on different metals. The author, Charles Lewton-Brain recommends dilute solutions to better control the process. He also lists suggestions for sealants - acrylic resin or jewelry/craft lacquers like Environtex Lite. Katherine Palochak on Ganoskin's article on creating iridescent patinas with LOS and ammonia might interest experienced users.  I now use Gun Blue which works well without the odor of LOS!  Check out this post which compares Gun Blue with LOS.

The Art Jewelry Magazine's video shows you the dipping method. Painting it on is another way. LOS has to be used with care. Always work in a ventilated area as you don't want to be breathing in the stuff. The solid is also flammable. Always keep it well capped. And never, ever let it come in contact with any acids as copious amounts of a toxic gas, hydrogen sulfide, will form. The whiff of rotten eggs smell you get when using LOS solution is this gas which is why you have to work in a ventilated area and preferably not bend over the container! The Materials Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) is here.

2. Silver Black Solution is another chemical to darken metal and must be used with extreme caution. It is a very strong and corrosive acid called hydrochloric acid sometimes called by its old name muriatic acid or even spirits of salt. The MSDS info is here.

3. Jax Patina are ready made chemical solutions which you can paint on for a permanent green patina on copper, bronze and bronze, a simulated 24K gold finish or even an antique rust finish on iron and steel. They also have various blackeners and darkeners as well as cleaning products to get tarnish off. Check out their product page here.

4. Contenti, a jewelry product supplier makes water soluble patina solutions which will certainly appeal to those who are scared off with all the chemicals you've read so far. The paint on patina colours include blue, green and rust. They also sell a clear sealer but it's not intended for heavy use.

5. Torching copper can also patina it. Etsy Metal's blog has a tutorial on how to heat color copper.

6. The boiled egg method is a natural way of getting silver to patina without damaging pearls or stones. has the full instructions. Putting the hot egg (break it open) and jewelry in a closed jar will work better. I wouldn't put the jar in the fridge as they suggest but leave it on the counter as the warmer temperature will quicken the process. That egg will not be fit to eat after though!!  (Update - also check my post Tips on How to Use Boiled Eggs for Metal Patination which explains the dos and don'ts)

7. The hamster bedding method is a recipe for getting brass and copper to patina. Jodi's free tutorial uses ammonia, vinegar and sea salt in addition to hamster bedding! As it is the ammonia that does the trick,'s article also suggests used cat litter or urine!

8. If all the above just grosses you out, then hang your jewelry in the shower for a few weeks. Someone I know hangs all her silver jewelry on a grid in her bathroom so she can easily choose her earrings for the day. All her jewelry have long since patinated. She said she doesn't mind them that way!
Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
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