Antique Satin

I’ve been oxidizing metal for two years now and I still think
I’m not doing it right. I use liver of sulfer, Vigor silver/gold
oxidizer, and Chem-Black from Swest (lacquer paint I believe) for
high ct. golds. When I apply the Liver of sulfer to a pre-heated
piece, I then quench, repeat and then go to rouge- messy and time
consuming and then the liver of sulfer seems to continue
oxidizing ad infinitum. When I use the lacquer on High carat
golds it looks cheap and I’m afraid it will eventually chip or
wear badly.

Any comments on my Ignorance welcome.

And while we’re on the subject of finishes can someone please
tell me some methods of creating beautiful satin finishes. I have
a bead blaster, a brass wheel 4 “, a steel wheel 4” ; But when I
use these It looks like I took it to my auto mechanic for
Grateful, Peter Slone

Hi! I’m wondering why you quench the piece after heating it and
applying the Liver of Sulfur. When I was shown how to apply
Liver of Sulfur, we heated the piece, applied the Liver of
sulfur, waited for the piece to turn black and for the liquid to
dry on the piece, let it cool and then rinsed with warm water and
scrubbed with soap (I’m not sure why!?!) And then buffed the
piece with Zam (which removed most of the liver of sulfur
coloring.) The blackness can also be sanded with fine grit sand
paper, or scratched off using fiberglass (stick?) pencil or

I’m also curious as to how others are doing this process.
Thanks in advance!

Hi - Have you tried iodine on gold? Try it and see if it works
for what you want.


I like the satin finish I get from wet sanding with 600 grit
silicon carbide paper. It has a soft appearance which I find
quite appealing.

Peter, the Indians of the American Southwest traditionally use
00 steel wool to produce a matte satin finish. The steel wool is
wadded up and stroked on the metal by hand, in one direction
only. I found something else which I liked better, however. They
are the fingernail finishers sold by beauty supply shops. They
use them to finish those fake acrylic fingernails as well as real
ones. The ones I like the best are rectangular foam bars. They
come in all different grits from super rough to super fine. I use
the same method of stroking in one direction only for a satin
finish. They’re inexpensive and last a long time. Hope it helps.
K.P. in Wyoming


I suggest when using liver of sulphur you do not quench.  I use

both liver of sulphur on silver, and one of the tellurium based
products on karat gold with good success. Here’s what I do:

Clean it - make sure the surface is very, very clean. Just like
you were going to solder. I typically will pickle the piece and
clean thouroghly with soap and hot water before applying the
chemical. With liver of sulfur, it’s best to make small batches
as you need it. It’s been my experience that a liver of suphur
solution tends to lose strength as it sits. Warming is good - I
usually warm it after I apply the solution. I never get it hot
enough to need quenching. Someone please correct me if I am
wrong, but it’s been my observation that getting it that hot and
quenching tends to remove the desired finish. If I’m using a
tellurium based product, I just clean, apply, and let the piece
sit until it’s dark enough. After the application of the
darkening agent, and after it’s done it’s work, I rinse the
piece gently in tap water. Then, I gently finish the piece by
hand being careful not to remove the finish with the burnishing
compound. Seems to work best if you finish the piece first, then
all you have to do is touch up the areas where you want it to

Seems like I read somewhere that ultrasonic cleaners will also

remove the finish, but I can’t verify as I don’t own one.

Good Luck!


Peter, I have used a mizzie wheel for nice finishes just past
satin. They don’t wear off quite so quickly. I also have a 3M
satin wheel for my polishing machine, and it gives a nice satin
finish. Curtis

I’ve always been happy with the 3-M fiberglass wheel on my
polisher. It makes a very even finish and, with practice is fast
& accurate for larger areas. I use a watchmaker’s fiberglass
pencil for smaller areas.

Steve Klepinger

Peter In looking for a good black patina for gold I found liver
of sulfur to work the best for me. I found in Opi’s
book that explained liver of sulfur doesn’t oxidize the metal,
that when applied and heated it forms a bonded coating on the

I’ve had good results in getting a very durable black patina on
14k rings and pendants by applying liver of sulfur and heating
the underside with a torch, and reapplying and heating 2 or 3
times. I’ve seen rings (well worn) years later that I’ve done
this way that still have a good black patina. Since it does form
a bonded surface instead of an oxidizing reaction, I would
imagine it would work fine on higher karat golds also. I found
the solid chunk form that you mix yourself to work well, and the
premixed liquid liver of sulfur to be useless (bad batch??).
Stored in a brown glass bottle a mixed batch lasts a year or so
for me.

Liver of sulfur does seem to bleed to surrounding areas badly,
and takes fairly aggressive polishing to clean up, so it’s not
well suited for finer detailed pieces. I found using an acid
oxidizer applied with an old sawblade works fairly well on 14k.
I’ve always cringed when I resort to using that Chem-Black stuff.
I just can’t see how it can be more than a temporary patina.
I’ve heard of using a rhodium plating solution that plates a
black patina, this sounds like a great patina but I’ve never done
it. Hope this helps you out some.

Rick B.
Gainesville, Fl.

   ...When I was shown how to apply Liver of Sulfur, we heated
the piece, applied the Liver of sulfur, waited for the piece to
turn black and for the liquid to dry on the piece, let it cool
and then rinsed with warm water and scrubbed with soap ... I'm
also curious as to how others are doing this process. 

I do it slightly differently. Liver of sulphur just allowed to
darken the silver results in a dull black surface, sometimes even
a bit spotty, and which can sometimes be prone to the finish
flaking off if it’s too thick, etc. I don’t much like that dull
black look. What I do is dunk the piece in the hot freshly mixed
solution, till it’s darkened, and then scrub it with a soapy
solution USING A FINE BRISTLED BRASS BRUSH. The brass burnishes
the liver of sulphur finish, both toughening it, so it won’t
flake off, and also changing the result to a nice sheen on a
gunmetal blue/black finish. The color is a tad lighter, mostly
due to it’s sheen, and a bit bluer. You can also scrub some more
of the liver of sulphur solution into the piece with the brush
too, as you do this, to get any spotty areas more completely
colored. Repeat if needed. The finish this gives again looks
like a metal surface, instead of black dirt on your piece. Very
elegant, and it will show off textures and surface treatments on
the oxidized silver which the plain dull black version will not
as effectively do. Vigor sells the brushes with either a wood or
plastic handle, calling them plater’s brushes. Not very
expensive, and they last a long time. You can also do this with a
rotary brass brush if you’ve got a machine set up which can turn
it at a reasonable low speed (like maybe 300 rpm or less) while
allowing you to also keep it wet with a suitable lubricant
(soapy water, beer, whatever, are all used.) The scratch brush
finish this gives you, coupled with that blue black color, is
both durable and very pretty. Try it. You’ll like it.

Peter Rowe

   Hi - Have you tried iodine on gold?  Try it and see if it
works for what you want. 

Yes, accidently. While I was working as an operating room
nurse, many of the orthopedic surgeons had us prepare the skin
for surgery by painting it with iodine. On occasion, I
accidently “wore” a bit of it myself. My white gold ring picked
up enough to stain (pale copper color). The color did finally
wear off on its own after 3 or 4 weeks. Don’t know how
permanent it would be if applied to scrupulously clean metal on
purpose. The color should be quite nice, though. Preferably
worn by someone not allergic to iodine (or shellfish) Pam

Well, what I do is pickle the piece, put it in an ultrasonic,
and scrub it really clean, and dry it. I fill a small plastic
coffee pot with an electric coil with water. Then crush a small
(peanut to hazelnut sized) piece of liver of sulfur and sprinkle
it in the water. I plug in the pot until it begins to steam (I do
this outside; it stinks). Then I dip all of my pieces in the
sulfur solution. They turn black in seconds. Then I rinse with
water and soak them in a warm turned off soapy ultrasonic.
After that I scrub and dry the pieces and can do a variety of
finishes, including polishing on a felt wheel with rouge making
the raised parts shiny or using scotch-brite for a satin finish,
or a steel brush for a shiny blue-black finish or you can just
leave it matte black. Usually, when I’m done I put the pieces in
a turned on ultrasonic for a long time to make sure the sulfur
finish is stable.

Works for me!

Amy O’Connell
Amy O’Connell Jewelry

One of the teachers at UC Northridge used the technique of
putting a iron nail in the solution of liver of sulfur as you
painted it on the gold, worked for 14k, I don’t for the higher
karat gold. Jack Burton