Patina: Simple Color on Silver

After the migrating snow goose, I felt like doing something simple. To make it a bit more interesting, I thought I would add color with Liver of Sulphur (LOS). I’m going to take this opportunity to discuss how one puts color on silver with LOS.

First of all, LOS can turn silver (or most other metals) black. However, with silver, LOS can also be used to provide other colors. To produce a solution that will induce color on silver, add a pinch of salt, a dash of clear ammonia, and LOS to warm water. I give no proportions because, in my experience, controlling proportions and temperature does not give you as much control as you would expect. In short, colored patina really seems to be up the to will of the patina gods.

A quick dip will give a gold-like appearance. A bit more than that will yield a bronze/brass color. A long soak will yield gun-metal gray, and a slightly longer soak will yield black. In between, one can get blue and purple. Very occasionally, red or turquoise will appear.

For my example, I start off by showing you some simple pieces just out of the tumbler.


The pendant in the middle has a bezel cup.

I gave the earrings with the birds a very quick dip (gold). The earrings with the botanical design got a longer treatment (bronze). The pendant with the geometrical design got a longer treatment (purple). The very small pendant got a longer one still.


Because the person I was making these for likes ‘shiny’ jewelry, I removed most of the patina with a polishing cloth. That leaves the pieces very shiny, while, leaving the patina in crevices. I put a moonstone in the tiny pendant, letting the pale stone contrast with the dark background. The result appears below:


One warning about LOS-based color on silver: the patina is not static. Eventually, the color will change. Sometimes the change is for the better, sometimes not. However, I have had patina colors remain unchanged for years. And, if one is not happy with the color, one can remove the patina by (assuming no gems) a quick trip through the kiln or (if there are stones) lots of rubbing. Then, one can patina again.

I encourage you to experiment with LOS and colors. Maybe, with luck, you will even achieve the elusive turquoise 😉

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