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Know the Material: Oxidation

Posted on 23 October 2017

 

As you are going through our website do you ever find yourself wondering why is this piece black? What is causing that bold color that creates a striking contrast with the other metal? Read on, and we will tell you.

As you may have noticed we love incorporating this different tone in our jewelry, we love how it stands out, we love how it creates a certain edge to a look, we love how the two (or sometimes three) tones play against each other causing heads to turn. The process that produces this wonderful darkness is called oxidation, using a product called Silver Black. Silver Black is a mixture of hydrochloric acid and tellurium that speeds up the tarnishing process of silver in a matter of seconds. The mixture causes the silver to lose electrons at a rapid pace turning the piece black.

By using this product we are able to control which parts turn black in hopes to highlight certain details in a piece. We use an array of methods to best showcase an oxidized piece, such as applying with a brush to control what areas become black or sand away certain areas after they have already been oxidized. By sanding and repolishing a piece we are able to remove the layer of oxidation and reveal the bright silver once again.

This is a very delicate process and involves steady hands, none of us like it when we get to the final touch up and the polishing tool gets away from us, effectively taking away oxidation from an area we did not want. This can send us all the way back to square one. After the oxidizing and hand polishing is finished we gently tumble the piece for only a few minutes to set the compound and give the piece an all over shine we could not achieve without clearing the black.

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