Those who know me know that mixing metals is one of my signature aesthetics. I just adore the way that the dark, matte silver pairs with bright gold. If you aren’t familiar with this bolder style, check out one of my favorite pieces, the Thick Black & Gold Square Bangle from the Black & Gold collection to see what I mean.
To achieve the look, we purposefully oxidize sterling silver in our studio to create the gorgeously distinctive and stunning surface treatment that you see in so many CMD designs. Over time this dark black will fade to a beautiful antiqued patina. This more subtle style of oxidation happens to silver naturally over time as it’s exposed to oxygen – you’ve probably seen it happen with some silver pieces of your own over the years. Luckily, sterling silver can easily be polished or cleaned to prevent tarnish if this isn’t the aesthetic you’re going for. Easy peasy. But what if you like the bolder look? I’m so with you. Read on to learn how to preserve your oxidized silver jewelry as long as possible, and how to re-create the effect at home! Who doesn’t love a good DIY project, anyway?
To help preserve the oxidation, it is recommended that you take your ring off when washing your hands, showering, etc. We also recommend that when you are not wearing your oxidized jewelry, to keep it in a box or bag, avoiding contact with other jewelry (especially those with unknown metals or alloys).
If you have purchased partially or completely oxidized jewelry, it WILL naturally lighten in color over time. It’s a bit unavoidable with time and wear. Oxidation is a little like a science experiment of sorts – it’s always been interesting to me to see that some people’s jewelry holds oxidation better than others. We all have such different chemical makeups to our skin, and it can be hard to predict what will happen. For some, oxidation rubs off fairly quickly and for others it lasts much longer. It also depends on the piece type – rings and bangles are usually subject to more friction, oils, lotion, water and general wear, so they fade faster than say, earrings or necklaces would.
As a courtesy to our customers, we offer re-ox and cleaning services for life. If you’d like to send your CMD pieces back to us, we can re-oxidize and return them to you, no problem. We just ask that you pay for shipping. Check out our Policies page and send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more and request further instruction on how to send your CMD jewelry back to our studio and what you should include in your package.
If you’re not a CMD customer yet, or just want to learn how to create this gorgeous darkened effect on your own, we’ll tell you exactly how to do it yourself at home! Sit tight… We’re about to get crafty.
DIY Instructions for customers interested in re-oxidizing their own jewelry
In our studio, we use Liver of Sulfur XL gel to oxidize our silver jewelry.
What you’ll need at home:
2 microwavable plastic or glass containers
Liver of sulfur gel
Old toothbrush (optional)
Note: Make sure to oxidize your jewelry in an area with lots of ventilation. Read the instructions that come with the liver of sulfur. Take off any jewelry or metal you do not want oxidized. Refer to the SDS for further safety, handling and storage info.
1) Wash the piece of jewelry you would like to oxidize in the sink with dish soap and water, rinse thoroughly and set aside.
2) In one container, mix a couple tablespoons of baking soda with a tablespoon of water to create a paste. This will be used in between rounds of dipping to even out layers of oxidation.
3) Fill the other container with enough water to submerge your jewelry. Warm the water in the microwave for 1 min. Take water out of the microwave and add a pea size amount of liver of sulfur gel to the water. Mix well with tweezers or with a gloved finger. The solution should be a pale to medium yellow color. It should also smell like sulfur or rotten eggs. Don’t be alarmed!
4) Place the jewelry into the solution, and oxidation should start immediately. Leave the jewelry in the solution for about a minute, or until there is a thin layer of oxidation on the piece.
5) Remove the jewelry from the solution with the tweezers (or a gloved hand) and dip in the cold water to halt oxidation and rinse off any excess liver of sulfur.
6) Use the baking soda paste to lightly abrade the newly oxidized piece, either by using your fingers to rub the paste over the surface of the metal, or by using an old toothbrush dipped in the slurry. This removes any caked or excess liver of sulfur and creates a thin, even layer of oxidation on which to build more layers and eventually end up with a rich, deep blueish black.
7) Rinse the baking soda slurry off of the piece with warm water and place the jewelry back into the liver of sulfur solution.
8) Repeat the process to build thin, even layers of color on your jewelry.
9) Once the jewelry is to the color you’d like, finish with a very light rub with the baking soda slurry. Rinse with water, dry and your piece is ready to wear!
Oxidation is flaking off
Reason: the layers of oxidation are too thick. This is from a solution that is too strong, the piece was left in the solution too long or the jewelry wasn’t thoroughly abraded in between layers.
Solution: mix up a new container of solution, thoroughly abrade the jewelry with the baking soda piece so that most of the oxidation comes off. Try again!
Solution has cooled and is no longer oxidizing
Reason: oxidation takes best when the jewelry and the solution are warm. When the solution cools, oxidation still takes place, just much slower.
Solution: reheat the solution in the microwave for 30-45 seconds and continue oxidizing.
There you have it! Please let me know how it works for you – and send pics if you have them 🙂