How do I patina gold?

Hello all,

Firstly thank you for such an informative site. I am de-lurking
because I am in a terrible fix.

I designed and cast 2 18k gold pendants that I have been struggling
to patina. My clients specified a durable, black antique finish in
the groves of the pieces whcih are engraved. I have tried liver of
sulfur and Midas antiquing but they do not “stick”. Should I use a
"dirtier" gold like 14k? Or am I just using the wrong chemicals? I
should preface this post with the fact that I usually do not work in
gold, i am definatly a silver artist, but I wanted to try something
new…oh boy…

Please, my time frame for this project is running out and it’s for a
wedding gift.

Thank you.

Elkka, why don’t you try a black rhodium plating.



Most 18K gold alloys will patina easily with the same liver of
sulfur used on silver. First, however, you must thoroughly clean
the surface to be worked…use a brush and detergent then rinse
well. Heat the item by laying it on a hot plate for a few
minutes…you may also want to heat the liver of sulfur some as
well. When they are both warm, paint on the LoS. When it is pure
black and seems to have ‘set’, immediately rinse it under cool
water. The patina should be fairly heavy, black and durable.

Cheers from Don at The Charles Belle Studio in SOFL where simple
elegance IS fine jewelry! @coralnut2

Gold doesn’t accept these chemicals at room temperature.The simplist
solution might be to heat the pieces with your torch , without the
boric acid/alcohol solution, until they blacken, then gently polish
the raised portions…don’t pickle the pieces, or you will have
to start over. You could also mask all surfaces you wish to keep
yellow with nail polish, and electroplate the pieces with rhodium at
such a high voltage that you “burn” the rhodium in the process…it
will blacken very nicely, and simply will not come off the recesses.
Anyone who has done rhodium plating has experienced this phenomenon
if using somewhat depleted solution to plate. If you don’t have the
rhodium in your shop, phone around to the trade shops in your
area…almost all of them will use it.

There are manufacturers who plate with ruthenium, but I don’t know
of any in North America. This is a very black, extremely durable
finish. Probably not an option, but the rhodium would work if you
don’t find the heat oxidation porduces a satisfactory colour.


What about putting a bit of iron binding wire around the piece and
put it in the pickle.The subsequent copper plating is easy to colour
with several chemicals including liver of sulphur and its easy to
polish back to the gold colour where you dont want the patina.

Hello Elkka, You can plate the 18k pieces with either copper or
silver. Highlight the items and then your liver of sulfer will stick
to the surface or try tincture of iodine. I would suggest that you
try the iodine directly on the 18k first. It sometimes works, but
usually is a softer color than black.

Have fun.
Tom Arnold

Correct me anyone if this is not true, but the only really permanent
way I have found to patina gold is with a black resin. I basically
paint it into the recesses of my piece, wipe it down then polish
when dry. The black using this method is very deep and defined…

Hope this helps

I have had success getting a patina by heating the gold then putting it in liver of sulfur with a bit of steel wool. The steel wool acts almost like a plating element.