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Oxidation, Frustration, Exasperation?

Hi All, I have mostly lurked here, absorbing all the wisdom…doing
my best imitation of a sponge. We are trying to solve a problem with
one of our wholesale accts. and have virtually exhausted our own
little network of jeweler friends and tech. resources. So I thought
I’d run this by a larger forum to see if there is something we are

Most of our designs are done in sterling with a black antiqued
background. We use Midas Black Max for antiqueing. On several
occaisions, we have had peices where the antiqueing has turned a
dull brown color and appeared to “migrate” to out of the background
on to the silver surfaces. In most of these instances we have been
able to figure out the problem: heat + humidity + displaying or
storing items sealed in the small zip bags. We spoke with a rep. at
Rio who confirmed this and recommended coating with either clear
water based laquer or tarnish shield and including 3M tarnish
(anti-tarnish?) strips in the baggies. We tested both products,
decided on the tarnish shield…the laquer did not look good on
satin finished pieces.

Our wholesaler shipped a lot of inventory back to us that had turned
brown. We refinished all of it (nearly a week in process) and coated
with tarnish shield, etc. We received an email this morning telling
us (after displaying at an event this past weekend) that the brown
tarnish has reappeared. I am about convinced that the problem is due
to inappropriate display. They are still keeping the items in sealed
zip bags. We have been suggesting to them that they might sell more
jewelry and eliminate the tarnish problem if they displayed the
jewelry in a more “creative” way. They have been a good acct. for us
and we don’t want to alienate them. They are becoming frustrated
with the back and forth shipping (we’ve done this several times
already) and we are also getting a little frustrated. We haven’t yet
been able to determine definitively what causes the problem for

We have done all the common sense things: bought fresh antiqueing
soln., no cross contamination, ruled out buffing compound, etc.

We are pretty much left with 3 possibilities at this point: 1) The
"baggie" problem. 2) Something reacting in their local (home?)
environment. 3) Impurites of some sort in the casting grain.

We would reallly appreciate any type of feedback/insight on this.

Thanks so much,
Mike Dibble

 We use Midas Black Max for antiqueing. On several occaisions, we
have had peices where the antiqueing has turned a dull brown color 

I found that instant blackeners wouldn’t stand up to being put in a
display window. Sunlight or heat would turn the patina brownish.
Using liver of sulphur seemed to solve the problem.

Dana Carlson

Hi Mike. Welcome to Orchid! I’m not a true expert on tarnish, but
most of my pieces are silver with antiquing too, and I do have some
browning of the silver over time. I was wondering though, have you
considered using the good old “liver of sulfur” for antiquing? It’s
tried and true, and very easy to use. (I am sure you are familiar
with it) Also, Silver black (hydrochloric acid) works well if you are
painting the black on. The whole idea of lacquering a piece of
jewelry just feels wrong. lacquer is for wood, and even then, I
prefer oil finishes.

But, perhaps in this situation the best thing to do would be to side

step that issue and ask instead, “Who Moved my Cheese?” and start
"Thinking Outside of the (plush, velvet, hot-stamped) Box" to come up
with a different solution for the packaging itself. :slight_smile: First of all,
make it very clear to your customer that you want to continue doing
business with them and you are doing everything possible to solve the
problem, and assure them that it WILL get worked out!

Then...why not completely remove the option of their displaying your

products in the clear baggies by using either “Anti-Tarnish flannel
pouches” (like the ones for old silver flatware - Rio Grande Display
catalog item number 455-340, page 65) or use small cardboard boxes
with an anti-tarnish tab (page 202) inserted in each one. That way
the piece could breathe.

Now, I understand that the cost may be prohibitive for the pouches

and boxes, maybe wrapping each piece creatively in a nice
anti-tarnish tissue paper (page 75) or swatch of anti tarnish fabric?
Or possibly using glassine envelopes similar to photographic negative
carriers? Or, maybe small manila envelopes, or small paper bags
stapled/taped shut (page 74). Then they have to “let the piece out
of the bag”.

Just some ideas. I wish you luck!

Drew Horn
Studio Fiodh

Hi Mike, if the problem is related to showcase display only, Then My
solution would be to have the samples Rhodium or synthetic rhodium
plated. Now, the sales people can show the item, finger print it , do
whatever to it … and when it is sold, give them a highly polished
silver piece all boxed up and ready to go… If using Rhodium is out
of the question, Then 3 M makes black anti oxidation paper that can
be put in a ziplock bag and this will reduce the tarnish… but
won’t help in the case of finger printing/oils etc. Hope this helps,
Daniel Grandi

We do casting, finishing and a whole lot more for designers , stores
and people in the trade. contact us at

or use small *cardboard* boxes >maybe small manila envelopes, or
small paper bags 

Hi Mike and Andrew,

I think Andrew is on the right track with his suggestion, although I
believe paper based products will contribute to a continuation of the
problem. Tarnish on silver products generally results from
interaction with sulfur in the immediate environment. Most
conventional paper products are processed with sulfur, some of which
remains in the paper. I would lean more toward the “silver cloth” or
anti-tarnish products, as they should retard the development of
additional patina. And as Andrew pointed out, being opaque, the
pieces would have to be removed, and maybe displayed on the fabric

I posted something a couple/few weeks ago about finding silver cloth
in a local fabric store. I’ll post something shortly on my odyssey in
developing an effective way to use this fabric.

All the best,


Dave Sebaste
Sebaste Studio and
Carolina Artisans’ Gallery
Charlotte, NC (USA)