I’ve been experimenting with oxidising silver over the past few days. Basically, oxidisation is what happens very gradually over time when silver is exposed to the air. The surface loses its shine, and eventually goes a dull grey-black colour. Obviously this isn’t something you would usually want on a piece of silver jewellery, and you would polish or clean it to maintain the shine.
However, using oxidisation deliberately as part of the design can give some very striking effects, especially when it is combined with areas of non-oxidised, highly polished metal.
The piece of jewellery needs to be exposed to a substance that will speed up the oxidisation process. You can use some fairly unpleasant toxic chemicals to do this, which I’m not keen on, or you can use a hard boiled egg. That’s right – a hard boiled egg. Strange but true.
You can see the results on the earrings below, which are little domed circles.
They were left in a plastic bag with a mushed-up egg for a day, and came out the colour that you can see in the centre of the circles. This is a dark golden-pinky tone, which I really like. I could have left them longer for a darker black colour. I then polished the wires and the backs of the circles, so that they are shiny silver again, leaving the patina inside the domed circles only.
I’m really pleased with the result. I think the contrast between the silver and oxidized areas works well, and I love the way each circle has individual swirls and patterns of colour, rather than a uniform dark tone. I’ll be doing this again!