How to Blacken Jewelry

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Blacken Jewelry
Blacken Jewelry (Image: Anita Patterson at morguefile.com)

Jewelry with an antique patina is adorable and easy to wear. While many people don't like wearing silver and gold together, jewelry with a black patina is a bit more neutral and can go with anything. Patina is just a fancy way of saying tarnish, which is what happens when the metals are oxidized. Learn how to blacken jewelry at home.

Things You'll Need

  • Jewelry
  • Bleach or liver of sulfur

Clean all jewelry thoroughly before adding an antique patina. A black patina comes from oxidizing the metal, and if there is any debris in the cracks or anything else protecting the metal from the blackening agent, it will interfere with the patina process and cause irregularities that might be undesirable.

Open the windows. Whether you choose to use liver of sulfur or bleach to blacken your jewelry, you should be in a well-ventilated room. The fumes from liver of sulfur are very offensive, like rotten eggs. Bleach fumes can be damaging as well and it's simply a good idea to do this in a well-ventilated room, or outdoors if possible.If you are using liver of sulfur, go on to Step 3. If you are using bleach, skip to Step 4.

Mix a few chunks of liver of sulfur in a bowl of hot water. Liver of sulfur is very inexpensive, and comes in a jar. Inside the jar, it looks like a bunch of rocks. The hot water helps dissolve the sulfur in the rocks and helps the solution reach every part of the metal. Some designers like to blacken an entire spool of wire before making it into jewelry. It doesn't change the inner qualities of the metal; you'll still be able to bend it freely and use it the same as before. It's just a matter of preference.

Fill a bowl with bleach if you don't have access to liver of sulfur. Use just enough bleach to cover your jewelry.

Soak the jewelry or wires in the solution until it reaches the level of black patina you desire.

Remove the jewelry from the blackening solution using a pair of tweezers or a slotted spoon.

Rinse thoroughly in running hot water for 5 minutes, and then give a final rinse in cold water.

Dry each piece thoroughly by laying on a towel to air dry.

Try buffing detailed findings so that the pattern stands out with the patina settling in the recessed areas and the pattern showing through on the top.

Tips & Warnings

  • 24-carat gold will not tarnish or develop a patina.
  • Try not to touch either patina solution with your bare hands. Use protective rubber gloves or tweezers to handle the jewelry.
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