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How can I oxidize white gold bands?


#1

I have a customer that I am making 14k white gold wedding bands for
that would like them to be oxidized. Any suggestions out there? I
indicated that the beauty of gold that it doesn’t tarnish easily, but
she insisted! Thank you.

Jim Malone
Diamond Point Metalsmiths
jm@adirondackjewelers.com


#2

There exists black plating solutions (Rio Grande) which I know
nothing about, except that the are there. If you use WinOx with a
steel applicator (as it says on the bottle), it will oxidize gold.
The caveat is that white golds are more difficult, and some are pretty
much impossible. You paint or dip the piece with solution, and
wherever you touch it with steel (an old file), it turns black or
grey. It’s a bi-metallic thing, I guess…


#3

Jim, For recessed areas (which won’t be in skin contact) I have
copper plated, buffed off excess, and oxidized with liver of sulphur.
Old pickle with a bit of binding wire works well for plating, acid
copper won’t throw well into recesses. There are also oxidizing
solutions using tellurium in a hydrochloric acid mix, apply with a
steel applicator. This deposits a layer of tellurium and sometimes
works on gold. Blacker than liver of sulphur but rather delicate
…don’t ultrasonic.

Jeff


#4

Black paint is one method that comes to mind. You probably will not
find any other way to get a good black color on white gold. Black
rhodium plating will give a dark grey.

Jim


#5

I would like to add my own tiny experience to John’s suggestion to
use one of the standard blackeners applied with mild steel (I used
steel wool as an applicator). I did this on an 18k yellow ring. It
worked great (though the process generated disconcerting wisps of
smoke!), but a few years later, not sure how long, I noticed that
the black had dissappeared. This was a ring for my husband, who
keeps it on his computer keyboard, not his finger. He has worn it
3-4 times, when I insisted. For whatever it’s worth-- Noel


#6
    Jim, For recessed areas (which won't be in skin contact) I
have copper plated, buffed off excess, and oxidized with liver of
sulphur. Old pickle with a bit of binding wire works well for
plating, acid copper won't throw well into recesses. 

This looks great for a short while but is problematic for use on
rings. Rings are constantly exposed to water (from hand washing)
and salts from the skin and other varieties of chemicals. Because
copper is very chemically active it will corrode away due to the
exposure to these chemicals and galvanic action caused by the
difference between the copper and the gold. All of this will remove
even thick copper plate in a couple of years or less and you will
have the customer back in the shop saying that the antiquing has
worn off. The Win-Ox and other selenium and tellurium based
"oxidizers" (patinas) are a little more durable but still must be
re-applied on a periodic basis to keep the look on a ring. This is
why I suggested paint, if you must re-apply the color periodically
and since all the options are a coating applied over the gold then
why not use a epoxy paint that will have a good color and will last
as long or longer than patinas?

Jim