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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
Jewelry Making Tips - Jewelry Business Tips 


  1. Oh you're too funny. :) Obviously I like the methods that don't require a lot of chemicals! Lol!

  2. Great post Pearl! Must check out the hamster bedding method. That one really made me laugh!

  3. Another subscriber also laughed at the geek in me. Only a science AND jewelry geek like me would include MSDS links!! These are safety sheets for chemicals. ;-)

  4. Ah, yes MSDS's. When I was working in an electronics company, one of my jobs was to mail/fax MSDS information when our shipping department forgot.
    Thanks for the very complete information. Great post (as usual)]

  5. OK Pearl,

    I have come to the conclusion that you're either psychic or you hear me asking all sorts of questions..and before the week is answer them..

    Really glad to have this one on patinaing as I do it a lot..another patina medium is 'gun metal bluing'..but we are not getting it easily here in Dallas, Texas..WalMart has discontinued carrying it..this patina as a bluish tinge to it..quite nice.


  6. I'm curious, will heating silver cause a color change? For example, if I want to use heat patina on a piece that has copper and silver, will the heat affect the silver?


  7. If the silver is sterling silver (92.5% silver, 7.5% copper), then yes. There is a protective solution - check out the instructions here :

  8. Thank for this great post. I love working with copper and anitquing most of my pieces. Great information here. I've used some of these.


  9. I have used chlorine bleach to get a patina on sterling silver... I don't know if it is safe though.... If anyone knows drop me a note at

  10. I think you are fine using bleach if you apply common sense. Just as you would with general cleaning, gloves are needed to protect your hands. I would also work in a ventilated place. Never ever mix it with anything else like vinegar or ammonia because toxic gases form.

    Here is a good article chlorine bleach :

  11. Thank you so much for your experiment with eggs. I have a few projects that I would like to age and had considered using LOS to get the look. Now I have a safe, easy and cheaper way of doing things. I'm curious to see how this works out with some chain maille sections that I've done for a necklace. Would you mind if I linked back here when I post my completed project?

  12. Absolutely. I would love to see what you do. Also check out this post which explains the eggs for patina process better and has tips.

  13. Hi Pearl, thank you for all the info! I have a question,... Most wire I use is labeled "tarnish resistant". Is it possible to age this kind of wire?

    1. Alas no. Non tarnish means there is a protective coating which will block any aging solution. So use bare copper, brass, sterling silver etc

  14. I tried the egg method and bleach on a silver ring, and these methods did not work. So, I tossed the ring into the chlorine dispenser in a swimming pool for about 20 minutes, and the result was perfect!

    1. The egg method does work - if you do it right. Many people do not do it correctly. Check out this post -

      That is revolutionary to use the chlorine dispenser but be careful not to involve vulnerable gemstones like pearls! I now use gun blue - works brilliantly especially for copper. No odor unlike liver of sulfur.

  15. Pearl, I've just come across your articles. I loved them so much right away I tagged them for safe keeping. Thank you so much for all the information, as well as all the chuckles!! Sandy


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