Sunday, April 18, 2010

Tutorial: Aging jewelry with liver of sulfer

Here is a little tutorial on how to artificially age sterling silver or copper jewelry. You will need two glass bowls, a chip or two of Liver of Sulphur, baking soda, a plastic fork or piece of scrap wire, and some paper towels. Do this outside because it stinks like rotten eggs.

Liver of Sulphur is a mixture of potassium sulfides which have traditionally been used to darken or 'antique' silver and bronzes. This is usually called 'oxidizing' the surface though it has nothing to do with oxygen, what is really happening is that sulfur is reacting with the surface to produce the grays and blacks. Liver of Sulphur decomposes with exposure to light and air and so should be kept in a dark bottle that is sealed tightly.

Step 1: Liver of Sulphur comes in chips. Take a small chip and dissolve it in very hot water. I typically make the water about as hot as a cup of coffee (very hot, but not boiling). Pour tepid water in the other bowl. Wait until the Liver of Sulphur chip dissolves. I stir it around as it is dissolving.

Step 2: I usually use a plastic fork to dip the jewelry pieces into the mixture or you can make a make a “hook” out of scrap wire to protect your fingers from the Liver of Sulphur. After a
few seconds you will see the jewelry turn dark. This solution creates colors as dark as night or as beautiful as an iridescent rainbow. And they range from subtle gold to magenta, purple, and everything in between.

Step 3: After it reaches the level of darkness that you want, pull your jewelry out and rinse it in
the clear warm water to retard developing. Pat it dry with a paper towel. Repeat this progression until you reach the desired color. Finally, rinse the piece in soapy water with diluted baking soda to remove any LOS residue that may continue to develop. (Please note: do not rub the piece with a soapy baking soda paste or a thick mixture, as abrasiveness will remove patina.) You can vary the basic process as long as you latch onto the concept that heat speeds color development and cold water retards it.

Step 4: Lightly buff the entire surface of the metal with 0000 steel wool. You’ll notice that the surface is getting shiny again, while the nooks and crannies stay dark. Make sure you go over your entire piece thoroughly, including the back of the piece as well as the insides of bails and ring shanks.

Step 5: Use a jeweler's polishing cloth to clean your polished jewelry and make it shine. Nothing brings out beautiful wraps and weaves better than aging and polishing!


fernvalley01 said...

That is kinda cool! thanks for sharing . I still wont have the talent you have , but I learned something

Judy Goddard said...

Hi there! I just learned something new! I love all the pics of your horse and dogs.

I keep saying I'm gunna post pics of my babies.

Say hi to David for us.

HJC Editor said...

Your tutorial is an awesome inspiration! Many thanks for sharing. I would like to feature it at

Kindly contact me here if you have a concern.


Floating Social Media