Simple techniques for oxidizing silver.

I wanted a simple version of my animal and artifact necklaces. Sterling silver chain was an obvious solution. But the bright shiny sterling just didn’t go well with my little ancient-looking artifacts.

One day I was browsing a chic little store on Charles Street in Boston, and was captivated by a line of metal jewelry. The line design was simple and clean. The chains were BLACK. They looked wonderful!

I couldn’t figure out what the metal was, til I realized it was oxidized sterling silver. I knew I had my chain solution.

I’d done a wee bit of oxidation in the past, using traditional liver of sulfur. But it was difficult to use, smelly and tended to age out in between bouts of oxidation.

I searched online and found simple oxidation techniques using cooked egg yolks. It worked. But it was hard to control the process, it was time-consuming, and it just seemed wasteful to use up a carton of eggs for larger batches.

I finally found this terrific product: Patina Gel from Cool Tools. It’s liver of sulfer in a gel form. Its shelf life is loooooong, and it’s incredibly easy to use, even in small batches.

I’ve only used it on sterling and fine silver. But the bottle says you can also use it on brass, bronze and copper.

One of my favorite supply companies, Rings & Things in Spokane, WA, carries this product now. I even bought it in the larger size so I’ll never run out!

So that’s tip #1.

Tip #2 is silly, but hey, it works. Today I needed to oxidize a very tiny batch of items–an old sterling ring I took apart for the components. I’d just done a large batch of items the day before, in a small plastic storage container, so I couldn’t batch the items up with other items. And even the small plastic container was overly large for my purpose.

It occurred to me to use a small ziplock bag instead. And it works GREAT!

I used a 3″x3″ bag, put the items in it, put about an eighth of a cup of water in (maybe less) and a drop or two of the patina gel. I sealed the bag, squished it gently to mix the water and gel, and let it set.

Voila! A tiny batch of nicely-oxidized components at my fingertips!

Now if I can just remember where I set it down…..

Patina Gel--One of my favorite tools!
Fun freebies, like this ruler, from Rings & Things.


Something useful, something interesting, something funny and something wise. You get to decide which is which.

Instead of a loooooong deep heavy post today, just some little thoughts and things of interest I’ve read in the last day or so….

From the June 2009 issue of Real Simple magazine, Kristin Appenbrink in the “Moneywise” section calculates that the Lewis and Clark Expedition (St. Louis, MO to Oregon, with nine states in between) today would cost about $308 for gas, roundtrip. I wonder if L & C would think that was wonderful or depressing? Of course, traveling by car, they also never would have met Sacajawea, and she was pretty cool.

From the June 2009 issue of Family Circle magazine, “Health News” by Jane Bianchi features little D+Caf Caffeine test strips to see if your restaurant coffee really is decaf. Sort of like a pregnancy test for coffee.

I tried this cool little free tutorial from on how to oxidize sterling silver with an egg. It was the best one I found online, involving the least mess, with great illustrations. Thank you to Sarah and Jen from tae kwon do, who, when I described the method to them last night, pointed out that I might want to recheck the part where you put the egg and jewelry back in the microwave to heat up. Yep, you’re right, I missed the part where the author said to take the jewelry out first.

I’m at that point in life where, when I put on eye shadow, my eyelid skin stays where the brush pushes it. Scary, but funny, too.

And the words that jumped out at me the last week or so were, “Life is too short to lose good friends.”


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