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Keum Boo on Argentium Silver_ Liver of Sulfur also tarnishing the 24K gold leaf

Hi guys! I am having trouble keeping the 24k gold foil applied to my argentium silver pieces from also tarnishing in the liver of sulfur solution.

I learned that if I leave a piece or argentium too long in the liver of sulfur, the black deposits get too thick and chip off. So I do repeated approx 15- 20 second dipping, soapy brass brushing, re dipping, until I get the silver to a nice deep black.

The distilled water and liver of sulfur solution is in a glass beaker, on a coffee warmer hot plate. (Approx. 120 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, Midas brand liver of sulfur)

I roll my own 24k foil to about 0.02 mm (measured with a micrometer).

By the time the silver is deep black in color, the 24K gold foil has also tarnished!

What am I doing wrong?
I wonder if I am burnishing the 24K foil too long, at too high of a temperature and the foil is diffusing into the silver? (I use 700 to 800 degrees Fahrenheit) But using a lower temp on the hot plate created issues with adherence of the gold foil to the silver.

Am I using the wrong liver of sulfur solution temperature?

Any thoughts or ideas would be so appreciated!

Thank you,

Perhaps you could use Jax blackening solution and paint it on just where the silver is…You could try this with the liver of sulfur but I doubt it would be controllable

Thank you very much for helping :slight_smile: I use many sections of gold foil, it just would be beyond tedious to try to paint only the areas that should be black… I have used Jax in my search for deep black. Jax had more of a dark gray color, at least the way I used it. (Maybe I am not using it correctly either) I do not remember if it colored the gold as much as the Liver of Sulfur… Might try it again.
There must be a way to use liver of sulfur without it tarnishing the 24k… Hopefully, someone with experience using LofS will be able to chime in.

My basic understanding is that gold alloys should not oxidize at all from sulfur compounds such as liver of sulfur. Pure gold is basically inert except that is dissolves in nitro-hydrochloric acid (aqua regia). I would test the foil and do further research.

That is my basic understanding too. I do appreciate your thought. Thank you for the video!
I do roll my own foil and buy 24k casting grain from a reputable company I have done business with for 25 plus years.The 24k looks/feels/rolls like it should, and alloys to 18k and 14k fine.

I am thinking I must be burnishing too hard, too long and at too high of a temperature so that some silver diffuses through the 24k foil…
But just to double check, I will also put some 24k foil in the hot LOS solution.
Thank you again.

I also have this issue when using LoS. I use 18k gold (from a very reputable provider) accents on sterling pieces. When I dip the whole piece in LOS the gold turns almost orange. I can clean it off, but this process is a pain.

in between your liver dippings, you could trying rubbing slightly wet baking soda on the surface with your fingers over the whole piece, rinsing, then dipping again, repeat after every dipping. you might also step up the thickness of your foil if it keeps happening

Yes, that is what I get, an orange, dark tarnish on the 24K. I also clean it off with a very fine brush and tarnish remover. A painstaking process on designs with many small sections. Also, I have noticed, when I leave a piece sitting out for some time ( a couple of weeks), that the 24k gold re-tarnishes… Sigh.

Thank you. I will try that too.
I brass brush with soapy water in between to not have the liver of sulfur deposit in one thicker layer (which has peeled off before). But I have not tried the baking-soda-brushing in between yet:)

Since I roll my own foil, it is quite a bit thicker than the commercially available foil? And people do not seem to have an issue with that thinner foil? My micrometer measures my foil at about 0.02 mm. This is pretty thick I think. Going much thicker might be a problem for the foil to adhere properly?

You might take a look to your pickling solution… Too old solution can transfer some silver onto gold. Same with the rolling mill. And finally, if you want to oxydize silver, use plain sterling, not argentium, deox silver orgermanium silver alloy. Those are meant to resist tarnishing. No surprise oxydation chip or peel.

yeah- sounds like your foil is probably fine. not sure but sometimes if heat is a little high when fusing it can literally burn off some of the gold. maybe brass brush is depositing into the 24k too. maybe try a new brass brush that might be softer. i make my own liver from chunks, that way you can customize the strength. mary kanda taught me the baking soda method of liver patina. it basically neutralizes the liver in stages. seems to make it more permanent, too. good luck.

Great points! I will use fresh pickle for the next batch. I clean off the rolling mill before rolling the sheet and I started to also clean the gold with rubbing alcohol before annealing it, thinking I might have rolled burned oil into the foil before, causing the tarnish.

I just love the argentium… super white, can be easily heat treated for hardness, no heat scale. But, point also well taken. Trying to get the argentium to blacken might take more effort than blackening regular silver… having to dip the piece over and over might cause the 24k to darken. I will do a test! Great idea, thank you.

Thank you. I did have a brand new soft brass brush (I think from Rio Grande) set aside for this purpose… but… maybe brass brushing the piece so often moves some of the silver onto the gold… This might again be more of a problem with the argentium silver. It is softer than regular sterling silver and might be “moved” more easily?
I will try a regular silver test piece… Hopefully I will get some answers that way. Thank you again.

Gozeba (spelling???) patina from Teval at Allcraft

Thanks for the suggestion. I have looked into it. Very expensive product with a short shelf life? But, when money is pouring in again :slight_smile: after the pandemic, :slight_smile: :slight_smile: , it might be fun to try out.

I have some new test pieces on the bench and will use Midas Liver of Sulfur again, (my 24k foil on regular sterling instead of argentium, lower temp on hot plate while burnishing, try the baking soda rub as opposed to brass brushing, use less LoS, etc.) Hopefully I will get somewhere.

The scientist in me recommends changing one variable only at a time (start with the most impactfull theorized change). This way you can actually find the cause and realize that other variables can be played with freely. Set up an experiment with scrap pieces. Maybe you already had planned this. Best of luck obtaining the desired result!

Thank you. Yes, that is what I am needing to do. I am in the process… Might even buy the quite expensive commercially available foil. Though doing that on a regular bases would not be very
cost efficient.

Finally some success…

  1. Instead of using a somewhat random amount of Liver of Sulfur, I found the “recommended” amount to use of 0.5 gr per 6 oz water. (If everything else fails… read the instructions) I think I had way too much LoS in the solution.

  2. Reading on Ganoksin, I had seen the suggestion to heat the solution to “just under boiling” temperature. So instead of placing the beaker on a 120 to 140 degree Fahrenheit coffee warmer, I used a real hot plate and turned up the heat to about 190 degrees Fahrenheit.

With this hotter temperature, it took not even 4 seconds before the Argentium was black!

So I dipped the pieces in the solution for about 2 seconds, water rinsed them, rubbed with baking soda and dipped them another 2 seconds.

I noticed the 24k gold still slightly changing to a deeper color, but it appeared to be a light coating of Liver of Sulfur and (mostly) came off with more baking soda and water.

Before, to get the Argentium to reach a deep black, the pieces were repeatedly soaked in the (warm) solution for probably a total of a minute or more. Brass brushing in between might have not helped either. Brass transferring onto the gold, or silver getting moved onto the 24K. But not sure on the latter since I precipitation harden all my pieces. The Argentium should then not be any softer than sterling silver.

Thank you all for your input and brainstorming with me:)

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