Yes, you can paint on silver (and copper) and it will be durable
depending upon how you design it. The key is that the metal must be
ABSOLUTELY clean and dry and the surface of the metal should NOT be
highly polished. A buffed or scratched finish will provide the tooth
needed for a good bond with the paint.
Depending upon what you’re trying to do, you may want to consider a
metal paint such as those created for the automotive and model-making
industry. They’re available in tiny little cans at a good model/craft
store and are ideally sized/priced for experimentation.
One thing I’ve done is a series of traditional artistic oil
paintings on copper, set as little pins and pendants in handmade
frames. The inspiration was seeing the wonderful Dutch master
paintings that were done on copper supports instead of canvas… the
colors are more vibrant and just “pop.” After doing a bunch of
research to find out how they prepped the metal, I found that they
pumiced to clean the copper, then used garlic oil (the oil pressed
from garlic cloves) to further clean the metal. Following that, they
gessoed, allowed to dry, and then painted as though on a canvas.
That’s the process I used and the paints have held up beautifully
with no darkening or color shift in the ensuing 8 years since I first
tried that technique. You do have to allow ample curing time (as you
would with any oil painting) of up to 3 months for a complete
oxidation (oils don’t “dry” they oxidize) before setting and wearing
Hope this helps!
No Limitations Designs
Hand-made, one-of-a-kind jewelry