No doubt, the subtle shine of silver is gorgeous. But if you love antique ornaments as we do, you might be wondering how to patina your silver pieces quickly and easily. Well, you’re at the right place!
If your goal is to obtain that dark grey-black hue or to patina your favorite jewelry colorful, we’ve got all the tips and tricks for you. Once you’re happy with the color, stop the process, buff or polish if you want to bring the highlights back, protect the pieces, and, of course, flaunt them!
Let’s get started!
What is Patina?
Many of you might know what patina is. For those who don’t, it’s simply a layer of film that forms across the surfaces of metals such as silver, copper, and bronze.
If you’re patient enough, it will naturally develop over the course of time, thanks to the process called oxidation.
But it can take from months to years for the tarnish to appear naturally. It depends upon the environment and chemicals you expose your ornaments to and plenty of other variables.
Thus, it is understandable if you want to patina your silver intentionally. After all, the dimensions it adds to the jewelry are genuinely astonishing, and the colors – gorgeous! To your rescue, there are plenty of oxidizing options available. Later on, we’ll discuss each of them in detail.
Some Tips Before You Patina Your Silver Pieces
Before jumping into the process, here are a few things that you must know beforehand. To make sure you are fully protected and your patina comes out perfect, follow these tips and safety guidelines.
Clean the items thoroughly:
Grease and dirt in your silver items will protect the area from oxidation. Clean your jewelry using your trusted silver cleaner, or simply use some DIY jewelry cleaners for the purpose. If you don’t have any, clean your pieces with dishwashing liquid and a soft brush. It’ll work just as fine.
Once cleaned, we don’t want any dirt and oils transferring from our hands to the silver, do we? Of course, we don’t! So, make sure you use a clean tong or tweezer for the rest of the process. If you don’t have one, use a pair of clean gloves before touching the pieces.
Know which method is apt. for your case:
Some methods are safe to use even if you have stones attached to your silver, whereas some aren’t. In such cases, you might want to resort to applying patina using a brush instead of simply dipping the items into the solutions.
Moreover, all of these options might result in varying results. So, make sure that you know what you’re looking for such that you can select the perfect method for yourself.
Be wary of the safety guidelines:
After all, building a patina on your silver ornaments is a chemical process. That being said, the chemicals you’ll be using requires you to follow a few safety precautions.
Make sure you use gloves and a mask before you start the process. When it comes to chemicals, you can’t be too careful!
How to Patina Silver?
We can’t wait any longer! Here are five ways with which you can patina your silver. Let’s have a look at these options one by one!
1. Boiled eggs:
Who knew boiled eggs would make an excellent tool for adding patina to your silver pieces? Boil an egg, crumble them in a container, place your silver piece inside, and close the lid – easy peasy!
Egg whites contain a sulfur-containing protein called albumin, thus the reaction leading to the patina formation. Easily found in almost everybody’s kitchen, this method is brilliant if you want to patina a few silver pieces or if you’re not in a position to invest in other fancy patina chemicals.
What’s more, this method is safe even if your jewelry contains porous and soft stones such as turquoise, lapis lazuli, shell, and pearls.
On the downside, however, oxidizing your silver using the egg method is relatively a lengthy process – you might want to leave it for at least a few hours for you to get your desired result.
Make sure to rest your silver in tissue paper inside the container such that the egg doesn’t directly come in contact with the egg. Else, the places where the silver comes in contact with eggs might look patchy. And remember – hard-boiled eggs only! Not soft-boiled, and definitely not uncooked!
2. Midas black max:
Midas BLACK MAX – aptly named! Be it gold or silver, this product gives a velvety black finish to your jewelry. For those aiming to get a dark black patina on your silver, this product is a great choice.
Black max contains tellurium and hydrochloric acid. So, a few safety tips – Don’t inhale it! Don’t touch it with bare hands! Wear your safety goggles and keep children out during the process!
Immerse your silver in or apply black max using an applicator in case you have gemstones attached to the pieces. And, within just a few seconds, you’ll be able to witness a beautiful black patina forming on the surface. Dilute the product for lighter patina.
Once you’re happy with the result, stop the reaction by dipping the piece in a baking soda solution, wash and dry your silver. How easy was that?
While you are busy searching for costly oxidizers, bleach – potent silver oxidizer is definitely smirking from the corner of your laundry. Sodium Hypochlorite, an active component of bleach, is a strong oxidant and tarnishes the silver within minutes.
Bleach results in quite impressive black patinas. But in case you want a light patina, feel free to make a dilute solution of bleach. Bleach and water mixed in a ratio of 1:1 results in a somewhat brownish patina.
4. Black salt:
We all know that black salt imparts a pungent sulfur smell. No doubt it acts as a natural tarnishing agent. Dissolve some black salt in hot water and immerse your silver in it. This method can feel relatively lengthy when compared to quick-fix commercial oxidizers.
Moreover, since this method is slow, it is also great if you want a controlled patina formation. Though quite unheard, this is an excellent yet safe and natural way of adding patina to your silver pieces.
5. Liver of sulfur:
Liver of sulfur is one of the most loved patina products. It is available in chunks as well as gel form. When it comes to the liver of sulfur, a little bit goes a long way. Just add enough to turn your hot water yellow, and that’s it. For half a mug of hot water, add about 10 drops of the product.
Remember that heat speeds up the patina formation. So, use hot water (not boiling) for dilution. To further speed up the process, you can also heat your silver using a hair drier or flame.
The downside of this method – it smells like a rotten egg! So, make sure you’re in a well-ventilated area.
Add a Rainbow Patina to Your Silver Using Liver of Sulfur
If you’re careful enough to optimize the temperature of the water being used and scrupulous throughout the process, you can add a colorful patina to your silver ornaments. The possible range of colors is straw gold, green, pink, blue, purple, gray, and black.
Since the process requires excellent attention to detail, we’ll provide you a step-by-step guideline.
Dilute your liver of sulfur in cold water
While adding a colorful patina to silver, it is obvious that we’d want the process to be more controlled. So instead of using warm water, dilute your product in cold water. And, don’t heat your silver beforehand.
Sprinkle some salt and add a splash of ammonia to your solution
To your diluted solution, sprinkle some table salt and add around one tbsp. of ammonia. Doing so will result in a rich and vibrant patina.
Dip your silver in the solution for a few seconds and immediately dip it in cold water. Repeat for a few times, notice the color graduation and stop once you’re happy with the result. Finally, dip the item in a neutralizing bath – a baking water solution, and you’re done!
Note: If you’re a professional, we’d recommend you use a magnetic tumbler to burnish your pieces beforehand to get consistently vibrant results.
How to Bring Out the Highlights?
Using micro-abrasive foam pads, steel wool, or a polishing cloth, remove the patina on the highlights of your items for a nice contrast.
How to Protect the Patina?
You can use jewelry wax, acrylic sprays, clear nail polish, or resins to protect your black, gold, or bronze patinas. However, given their high wavelengths, the blues and the purples dull when protected with these. So, we’d recommend you not to use any coatings on your rainbow patina.
With all this information, we believe that now you can patina your silver pieces like a pro. So, what are you waiting for? Start by adding a gorgeous patina to your favorite silver ring or a set of earrings. And, don’t forget to share your experience with us. We’re all ears!
Friday 29th of July 2022
"Make sure to rest your silver in tissue paper inside the container such that the egg doesn’t directly come in contact with the egg." I am to assume that you meant so that the piece doesn't come in contact with the egg.
I am going to try the bleach first. Then the egg if the bleach doesn't do well.
Saturday 1st of January 2022
The hard boiled egg is really easy fast and works perfectly
nick A barile
Wednesday 15th of December 2021
The bleach and hard-boiled egg methods do not work