Tarnished On Purpose?

November 01, 2020

Oxidized choker

Have you noticed contemporary jewelry designs partially or totally blackened? Yes, there is a technique that jewelers use to give gold, silver or other metals a trendy and edgy old finish look.

The contrasting color makes metals, gemstones, and other organic materials such as pearls, pop. But what exactly is this process?

It is called patination or oxidization, and it is used to give an antiqued finish to jewelry; in Nueve Sterling's particular case, to silver jewelry.

Applying a patina to a piece that has texture, cracks and crevices, will create light and shadow, adding depth to the metal. 

The surface of an oxidized silver piece is intentionally darkened by introducing it to a chemical process. This patina (a surface color that occurs when the silver is introduced to sulfides) is a sped up version of the natural tarnishing process. A layer of silver sulfide forms on the exterior of the metal giving it a blackened look.

Jewelers use a chemical compound to create the blackened surface on silver jewelry. The range of colors that can be achieved from this process is extensive. At full strength, the color will appear a matte gunmetal black, but with a controlled application, a whole rainbow of colors can be achieved including blues, purples, yellows, and reds.

Like other patinas, oxidized silver is just a surface treatment and does not change the internal color or properties of the metal, meaning that the patina can fade and the natural color of the metal will shine through over time . So it is very important to remember that oxidized silver is only a surface treatment and just the top layer of metal particles will get the blackened color.

The look of your oxidized silver piece will gradually change but how long the patina lasts will depend on how much contact the pieces have with their surroundings. For example, rings and bracelets tend not to hold their color quite as long as earrings or necklaces, since they rub on things we touch more frequently.

Taking good care of your oxidized silver jewelry for example, removing it before showering or even washing your hands, will be a key to prolong its beautiful dark color.

In general, oxidized silver jewelry should just be cleaned using mild dish detergent and a soft cloth, with as little rubbing as possible, to avoid stripping the blackened surface. Do never clean your oxidized jewelry with polishes or dips for silver, since they are made for removing tarnish.

But good news, your darkened finish of jewelry can be restored at any time. You just need to go to a jewelry shop and ask for a re-blackening, or a touch up of your oxidized finish.

Bursting with a vintage, raw charm that women are finding irresistible, nowadays oxidized silver jewelry is in high demand.

Wear with plain whites and pure blacks for the sophisticated look. Mix with monochromes and flowing prints for the more boho and hippie effect. Oxidized silver jewelry plays with shadow and light on fabric, so wear your darkened jewelry with full confidence and combine it with rings, bracelets, necklaces and earrings that accentuate this look.

At Nueve Sterling we have a line of beautiful oxidized pieces to enhance your style. Click the following link to check them out!

Oxidized jewelry

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