Deep black on silver

I have an order from a customer who wants parts of one design to
have a more saturated black color to the silver than my Silverblack
™ gives it. I thought just waxing over it would do this, but it
doesn’t really. It needs to still look like metal, so enamel or
epoxy coatings are out. Any ideas?


Hi Noel:

I have an order from a customer who wants parts of one design to
have a more saturated black color to the silver than my Silverblack
(TM) gives it." 

You don’t say where the “black part” is. Is it a flat surface you
can easily reach? Or it is in recessed parts? I do know that silver
that has been textured or bead blasted will take a much darker
patination than smooth surfaced silver, so whether or not that would
help is the question. Let us know how you resolve your problem since
I’m sure all of us would like a blacker black in certain areas some
of the time and are always interested in how others achieve this.

Kay, in warm Sarasota, where although the calendar would suggest
winter, it’s not happening here.

Noel, I had success with prolonged and repeated baths in warm liver
of sulphur with light polishing between. Came out glossy and black.
Too hot though and it can flake.


Actually, if you can find a really good hobby shop, check out the
automotive detailing paints. Many of them are designed for
airbrushing and go on thinly enough that the metal shows through but
give a lovely (and permanent) color. I’ve used them on copper and
brass to create very nice effects, and on silver as accents.

Good luck!

Karen Goeller


To get a more saturated black on your silver, try soaking in Chlorox
for a whilea nd buffing off the high spots. There was a thread on
thisa while back. I tried it and it worked very well. I understand
the black is silver chloride, the same stuff that produces the black
on photographic film.

Jerry in Kodiak


Could you enamel it and then give it a slightly matte finish?
Sometimes if you matte it properly it doesn’t look like enamel.

Amery Carriere Designs


Sorry I don’t have an answer but I am as keenly interested in the
responses. I have seen some jewelry in galleries with sections that
are as black as coal with beautiful contrasts and would love to know
how it is done. Every blackening process (LOS, Black Max, etc.) I
have tried could not achieve the look Stumped…

I personally go with a clean piece of silver, then I paint on
Win-OX, rinse with water, dry and follow up with a final step of
Renaissance wax-> this seems to deepen the black in appearance. I
usually don’t use the wax if the blackening is in a crevice, or an
area where it’s protected.


Hi Noel,

I find that brushing with a glass brush between liver of sulfur
coatings allows silver to take a darker black. It also evens out the
color. I also heat the piece and my tiny glass vial of l.o.s. with a
hairdryer—it intensifies the process without overheating, so a
thin layers and a good bond are maintained. I usually paint it on in
the desired areas instead of dipping the whole object. The black can
be further intensified by adding iron filings to the liver of
sulfur. This also enables blackening of gold (!).

Janet in Jerusalem

There is a photo chemical that I use that makes a very dark black.
It is Rapid Sellinium Toner and made by Kodak. I use a lot of de-ox
silver, so liver of sulpher does not work very well, but MaxBlack
and other tellurium dioxide soulutions will work, but come up a
little gray. I use the Kodak solution as a second treatment or as a
touch-up. Dilute to about 30 precent from the bottle strength.

There are several problems with Rapid Selinum Toner:

  1. You will probably have to special order it from a photo supplier,
    since its original purpose in Black and White photography is an
    old-fashioned technique that is not very common anymore.

  2. It smells bad.

  3. The black is not especially durable, which is why I apply it over
    a MaxBlack treatment. That way if the customer washes or polishes it
    out, it still has an antique finish, just not as black.

Another trick I have learned is that you can oil an blackened silver
finish and it will have a denser looking black. This will, of
course, wash off pretty easily. It lets the patina keep that dark
"wet" look that it sometimes looses when the piece drys. The only
reason I ever do it is to make “his and hers” silver rings match
when I have an especially stubborn ring and a hyper fussy customer.
WD40 works just fine.

Stephen Walker


There is a photo chemical that I use that makes a very dark black.
It is Rapid Sellinium Toner and made by Kodak. 

Sodium selenite the source of the selenium in the Kodak Rapid
Selenium Toner is a very dangerous chemical to work with. It is very
toxic and causes birth defects. I would not have it in my studio and
would suggest if you have it in yours you handle it with extreem
caution using proper safety gear and ventilation.

Here is some of the health data from the MSDS for Sodium Selenite

Acute toxicity of soluble selenium compounds is high. A general
tissue poison like arsenic, presumably attacking sulfhydryl


Irritant to the respiratory system. Soreness, coughing, labored
breathing are symptoms which may subside and return. Lung edema
may occur in acute cases. Cases with flu-like symptoms resembling
metal fume fever within 24 hours of exposure have been reported. 


Toxic. May be fatal if swallowed. May cause severe stomach

Skin Contact: 

Causes severe irritation. Symptoms include redness, itching and

Eye Contact: 

May cause severe irritation, redness, pain. 

Chronic Exposure: 

Chronic selenium intoxication may cause depression, nervousness,
dermatitis, gastrointestinal disturbances, giddiness, garlic
odor of the breath and sweat, moderate emotional instability,
excess tooth cavities, loss of fingernails and hair, metallic
taste in the mouth, respiratory tract irritation, fatigue,
allergic eye reactions, and severe skin lesions. Selenium
intoxication has caused blood, liver, kidney and spleen effects
in laboratory animals. 

Aggravation of Pre-existing Conditions: 

Pepole with a history of asthma, allergies, known sensitization
to selenium, a history of other chronic respiratory disease,
gastrointestinal disturbances, disorders of the liver, blood or
kidneys, or recurrent dermatitis would be expected to be at
increased risk from exposure. Special consideration should be
given to women of childbearing age since the possibility that
selenium may be teratogenic might place these women in a high
risk group. 

Reproductive Toxicity: 

In laboratory animals, this compound has caused both birth
defects and damage to the reproductive system. 


James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


Has anyone mentioned black rhodium? Has anyone used this to this
effect? I’ve heard that it flakes, but I’ve never used it myself.

Amery Carriere Designs

To get a deep long lasting black on silver I have mixed “flowers of
sulphur” which is available in most drug stores, with Vaseline
petroleum jelly and let it sit a day or two after mixing then apply
to silver.

Proportions are approximate, about 3 tablespoons to small jar of
Vaseline. Wash it off after about 3 hours though I’ve left it on all
night. Make sure you put it only where you want it, as the oxide is
hard to remove. If the oxide flakes off, lessen time or
concentration. Remove with dawn or some other strong de-greaser.

I think flowers of sulphur is just powdered sulphur. It supposedly
has other properties such as keeping snakes out of your house and if
you put it in your shoes, will keep witches from following you. I
supposedly cures scabies too. I can’t guarantee results.


I think flowers of sulphur is just powdered sulphur 

Just FYI - a little chemical tidbit: Flowers of Sulfur is sublimated
(going from solid to vapor without a liquid phase). It’s powdered,
but it’s not ground to a powder - it comes like that. When it goes
back from vapor to solid, it “snows” extremely fine sulfur. Just

I’ve been using a chemical called Tech-ox “P” for over 20 years. It
lasts for years, doesn’t require heating, and produces a dark gray to
black coloring, depending on how long the piece is immersed. It will
yields a beautiful glossy black when scratch-brushed. Ask for the
MSDS as it’s made with hydrochloric acid.

Technic, Inc.
1 Spectacle St.
Cranston, RI 02910
Tel: 401/781-6100
Fax: 401/781-2890

Jeff Herman