Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Tutorial 201 - Oxidizing Sterling Silver

As promised, I wanted to periodically offer some tutorials for those of you who enjoy making your own jewelry but may still have questions about certain techniques.  Today I wanted to show you my process for oxidizing sterling silver.  In this case, I've used ear wires as our example.  The above photo shows them all shiny and new.  (Bo-ring!)  ;)

This is the Liver of Sulfur I prefer using, a bottled gel.  It is also available in lump form (like little rocks), but I find that difficult to dissolve and has a much shorter shelf life.  Liver of Sulfur is described by Wikipedia as a mixture of potassium sulfide and other chemicals, and can give off a hazardous fume, so it's best to work with it in a well-ventilated area.

Working near the kitchen sink, I pour a tiny drop into a small non-pourous bowl that I don't plan to eat from again!  You will also need a plastic spoon for this process, and some paper towels.

Fill the bowl with hot water, just enough to cover the items you will be oxidizing.  The solution will turn bright yellow.

Next, I put it in the microwave for one minute.  You need to get the solution really hot in order for it to be effective!  It will darken a little after you heat it up.

Working very quickly so the solution doesn't cool too much, I load my spoon with the ear wires, and dunk them in, careful not to drop any into the bowl.  Sterling silver will oxidize in just a few seconds, so I didn't even have time to snap a picture.

When the silver has turned the colour you like, remove it from the solution and quickly run it under cold water to stop the oxidizing process.  Note that the metal will be very hot, so take care when touching it with your bare hands or you may want to wear rubber gloves.
Place the items on a paper towel and pat dry.  Voila!  Aren't these wires much more interesting now that they look aged?  ;)

And while you're here, allow me to show you some new designs I just listed on Etsy.  These will make perfect Mother's Day gifts for yourself or someone you love.



Thank you for stopping by!  And please feel free to let me know of any future tutorials you may like to see!   x o



  1. Beautiful creations as always! I use a silver black something that works great on ss, but I haven't had any luck with gold fill wires. Have you tried the liver of sulfur on gf? Or do you use only ss wires?
    Thanks in advance for your help!

    1. Hi, Susanne! Thank you for your comments. I generally find that gold and goldtone metals do not take to the oxidizing process. Sterling silver and copper will darken very quickly; silver plate may take a tiny bit longer. I also sometimes get decent results with silvertone metals (not sterling), but that can take much longer. For example, I oxidize all my craft wire, but I usually have to soak it in the solution for several hours, heating it up repeatedly in-between. I hope this information helps. :)

  2. Great post, Robyn. How nice of you to share how-to's. That l.o.s. gel is the best thing since sliced bread, eh? Love it!

    1. Thank you so much for taking the time stop by, Janet! I'm sure you're a pro at using this stuff already! What would we ever do without it? ;)

  3. Thank you so much for that great tutorial. The ear wires turned out beautifully. You make it look so easy.

    I love, love, love your jewelry!!!

    1. Thank you for your sweet compliments, Jennifer! It is easy! I hope you'll give it a try yourself. :)

  4. Hi Robyn!

    I love your tutorials as well as your beautiful jewelry!

    Au revoir,

    Danette :)