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What is Patina?

Daily Wire Jewelry Tip February 27, 2015

What is Patina?

After we posted our Liver of Sulfur tutorial on Monday, we had quite a few questions come in from our readers. So, today I thought we’d address a these questions.

What is patina?

Patina is a film that develops on the surface of metal over a period of time. Due to exposure to open air and the natural process of oxidation, an aged metal such as copper and silver tends to develop a patina. Because it can take from days to years for patina to occur naturally, we can speed up the process for jewelry-making purposes and create the patina ourselves. One of the more commonly used patinas is Liver of Sulfur (LOS).

Liver of Sulfur:

Liver of Sulphur Gel, 2 Ounce Bottle

Liver of Sulphur Gel, 2 Ounce Bottle

Formulated for extended shelf life, versatility and convenience, this gel makes it easy to use and less mess with better results. May be used in concentrate or diluted in warm water for desired effect. 2 oz. squeeze bottle. Non-hazardous.

Liver of Sulfur 4 oz

Liver of Sulfur 4 oz

Liver of sulfur is traditionally one of the best oxidizers for silver and other metals. It produces a durable black finish. Simply dissolve in hot water. 4 oz jar comes in lump form.

Ultra-Polish Pads, 5 pack

Ultra-Polish Pads, 5 pack

These convenient sized Ultra-Polish Pads are great for removing tarnish, highlighting when using liver of sulfur or silver black, or polishing to a high luster, fast and easy. Leaves no residue. They are made of thin, tight-bond foam with permanently bonded micro-abrasives. A handy, economical polisher that is truly amazing. Squares are 2″ x 2″ and sold in packs of 5.

5 Types of Patina:

Here are five additional Patina finishes that you can achieve with a little experimentation. The following techniques begin with the basic process of using Liver of Sulfur. Additional materials or tools are listed.

1. Traditional Antiquing: Black crevices, bright highlights)

Additional supplies:

Scratch brush a piece and burnish it or tumble for 45 minutes or more to a mirror finish. Use the LOS to patina the piece to a dark black. For faster results, work with hotter temperatures and longer soaking, and build color gradually versus doing it in one big jump. After a final soapy rinse, dry the piece and rub “highlights” off with a polishing cloth. See the drama and depth that you have created!

2. The look of hematite:

Additional supplies:

This method will take the “Traditional antiqued” method to the next level, coloring the metal a reflective, deep gray-to-black similar to the mineral hematite. After applying the patina, you may choose to remove or not remove highlights with a polishing cloth. Put the piece in the tumbler, add 1-2 tablespoons of hand soap or the recommended amount of a burnishing solution, and then add water to about an inch above the shot. Tumble for 20-30 minutes. Wow, what sheen!

3. Steely gray/blue-gray brushed finish:

Additional supplies:

  • Non abrasive hand soap

Progress through coloring a piece until you reach a gray or blue-gray. Use a steel or brass brush and a bit of hand soap to scratch brush the surface for a steely effect. More brushing will lighten the color, and a stiff brush will be more aggressive than a soft one. This is a soft and subtle patina that can have a sophisticated look!

4. Layered color:

Additional supplies:

Use any LOS recipe to develop one or two shades past gold or light brown, stopping with a cold-water bath. Brush or selectively remove color from portions of the piece with a polishing cloth. Then, wash in soapy water to remove hand oils and polish, and then dip again in LOS. You’ll notice the un-removed patina will continue to darken, while the area where the patina was removed becomes gold.

Also, try detailing the LOS in selected areas. Put the piece on a cup warmer and apply LOS with the brush. Be sure other areas have no LOS residue on them or they will darken as well. Before detailing, wash the piece in the sudsy, baking soda water mix.

5. Iridescent effects:

Additional supplies:

  • Ammonia

Adding a tablespoon of ammonia to the LOS solution kicks the process up a notch. Colors intensify and have an iridescent effect. Gold’s become brighter, blues more saturated, and the purples pop. Ammonia, in my opinion, adds an additional element of wonder because it seems to make the LOS solution more “sensitive.” You are likely to get a tonal range instead of flat color. For instance, a pink area may have a subtle pink to bright magenta. If you are particularly interested in a specific effect, a test piece may be in order. Be adventurous and watch how a kick of color can change your whole piece!

Now let’s answer a few additional questions:

1. Will Liver of Sulfur patina to gold-filled metals?

  • No, gold alloys will not react to most sulfur solutions.

2. Will Liver of sulfur give patina to fine silver?

  • Yes, the copper content in silver reacts with the LOS to result in a patina. Even though fine silver is 99 percent silver, it has sufficient copper to result in a beautiful patina.

3. Will Liver of sulfur patina to brass?

  • No, Brass will not react to most sulfur solutions.

4. Will Liver of Sulfur patina to copper?

  • Yes LOS will patina copper but you would use cold water.

5. Will Liver of Sulfur affect gemstones?

  • Cubic zurconia, glass and man-made gemstones will be unharmed by LOS.
  • Most natural gemstones will be unaffected with some exceptions. Turquoise, Lapis, shell, pearls and other soft stones should not come into contact with LOS as they are porous and could be damaged.

What about Metal?

We also had a couple of questions about metal and what kind you can use and the types of finishes it would produce. Below is a quick reference guide to the range of colors possible when used with a specific metal type.


Range of color possible

Fine Silver Straw gold, green, pink, blue, purple, gray and black
Sterling Silver Straw gold, green, pink, blue, purple, gray and black
Argentium sterling silver Straw gold, green, pink, blue, purple, gray and black
Brass Brown to black tones
Bronze Brown to black tones
Copper Brown to black tones
Gold None to very pale brown depending on karat
Platinum None
Aluminum None
Stainless Steel None
Niobium None
Titanium None

If you love using Liver of Sulfur – pick up some today and get started on your next project!

Happy Wrapping!



More about Liver of Sulfur

FAQ’s about Liver of sulfur

A Jewelry Artist Guide to Liver of Sulfur Patinas and Finishes

Liver of Sulfur Finish

by Judy Ellis, Wire-Sculpture.com

Daily Wire Jewelry Tip February 25, 2015

Liver of Sulfur Finish

We’ve been discussing patina’s and finishes around the office the last few days.. so today, I thought I’d re-visit an older post about using Liver of Sulfur to give your jewelry pieces an antique look.. This is an easy process which can give your wire work a great finish!

What is Liver of Sulfur?

Liver of sulfur, also spelled liver of sulphur or just LOS, is a quick and easy (although stinky!) way to patina copper and silver. Liver of sulfur, though, will give your copper and silver jewelry a beautiful antique look like the one featured below.

Quick Wired Bead Ring by Albina Manning

Note: there are 2 types of liver of sulfur available on the market: gel and “rock” or solid form. I highly recommend the gel form, available here: Liver of Sulphur Gel, because the gel dissolves in warm water much faster, making the process (and the smell!) faster than ever.

Here’s a little tutorial that will show you how easy it is to use liver of sulfur!

Materials needed:

  • Liver of Sulphur Gel
  • Water in a glass or plastic cup (I recommend disposable)
  • Paintbrush
  • Fine (#0000) Steel Wool and a Dust Mask
  • Paper towels and/or rags
  • Disposable Gloves that will keep your fingers dry
  • and of course, the pieces you want to patina!

Step 1. Clean your piece and set up your equipment. Plan ahead of time where you’ll process your jewelry, and remember that it will smell like eggs. I set up out on the porch, with the house door closed.

Supplies for a liver of sulfur patina

A cup with water, Liver of Sulfur Gel, #0000 Steel Wool, Gloves, and a Paintbrush.

Step 2. Read the directions on your package. For the gel form of liver of sulfur. Typical directions will ask for warm, not hot water, that you can still put your finger in and not be burned. An easy way to do this is simply place the water in the microwave for 20-30 seconds. The amount of water you’ll need depends on how much jewelry you’ll be patina-ing, but a small cup with about 8 ounces of water will easily do dozens of earrings.

Step 3. Take the water out of the microwave and bring it to your work station. Remember, this should be outside or in a well-ventilated area! Now, put on gloves: you don’t want to touch liver of sulfur to your skin. Add your liver of sulfur to the water (check your directions for how much) and stir with your paintbrush. With just a small cup (about 8oz), about 5 drops of liver of sulfur is strong enough. You can always add more gel. If you aren’t using the gel form, you will have to allow time for the liver of sulfur to dissolve. It will be bright yellow when it’s ready.

Liver of Sulfur solution

Stir the Liver of Sulfur solution to mix it

Step 4. Here’s the fun part: in goes the jewelry!
It’s up to you to use tweezers or tongs, or to simply pull the jewelry out of the liver of sulfur solution with your gloved fingers. If you used a lot of liver of sulfur, the jewelry will turn black almost immediately. If you used less, you may have to let it sit in the solution for up to a minute.

Wire jewelry about to be dipped in liver of sulfur

Hint: If you have items you don’t want the liver of sulfur to touch, such as pearls, use a paintbrush (or even a q-tip) to only apply the liver of sulfur to the area of the piece you want to have patina.

Painting liver of sulfur on copper with a paintbrush

Step 5. Remove the blackened jewelry from the liver of sulfur. Let sit on a towel or rag to dry.

Copper wire jewelry blackened with liver of sulfur

Step 6. When dry, use #0000 fine steel wool to erase some of the blackened finish, revealing a lovely antique look.

Hint: Fine steel wool can “shed,” so do this over a work surface. I use a paper towel to hold the steel wool so I don’t get poked! Safety note: it’s a good idea to wear a dust mask while using steel wool.

Polishing liver of sulfur with steel wool

Step 7. Rinse with clean water, and let your piece dry. Leave as-is, or seal with wax like Renaissance Wax to protect your new patina. Now, admire your work!

Finished copper butterfly necklace with liver of sulfur finish

Finished copper butterfly necklace with a liver of sulfur finish.

To dispose of the liver of sulfur, simply pour it slowly down the drain with lots of running water. An even safer method is to shake baking soda into the liver of sulfur to neutralize it, then pour it down the drain (good for old pipes).

Pick up some Wire and your Liver of Sulfur today and get started on your next project!

Happy Wrapping!

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Wire Jewerly Tip – Beading Wire

by Judy Ellis, Wire-Sculpture.com

Product of the Week for February 23, 2015

This week we feature our Beading Wire

What is a Beading Wire?

Jewelry beading wire is ideal for all your beading projects! Whether you’re adding beaded details to a wire wrapped ring or bangle, or if you’re beading a bezel pendant, this bead wire will hold your design.

How to use Beading Wire?

Stringing beads on beading wire is one of the most popular methods for making beaded jewelry. It’s also one of the simplest – which makes it a great for beginners. Once you get the hang of bead stringing, the creative possibilities for make beaded necklaces and bracelets are endless.

How to get started with beading wire:

1. Gather your beads and plan your design; When you use a variety of different types of beads, colors and sizes, you might want to use a bead board to help keep them all sorted out. That way you can try out different combinations before you get started to see what looks the best. You can string just about any type of bead on beading wire.

2. Gather your beading supplies: In addition to your beads you will need some simple supplies: crimp beads (appropriate size for your wire), crimping pliers, chain nose pliers, round nose pliers, wire cutters and a ruler or yard stick. You may also need end findings or clasps depending on your design.

Below I’ve put a quick example of a beaded necklace – that easy to make with any kind of wire including Beading Wire or Memory Wire.

Irradiated Quartz Necklace

Why purchase a new necklace to go with a favorite outfit?  Make one instead!  To make this piece, use 22g square half-hard wire in 4-inch long pieces.

  • To begin, make a wrapped loop at one end of a piece of wire
  • Add the beads and then make another wrapped loop at the other end.
  • For the next and following beaded segments, wrap each loop into the preceding and the following segments.
  • To finish the necklace, a simple S hook and large jump ring form the clasp, or add your favorite!

Beading and Memory Wire:

Beading Wire is a must have for any workbench! Want to know more about using Beading wire – take a look at our Wire Jewelry Books today!

Happy Wrapping!

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February Birthstone – Amethyst

Daily Wire Jewelry Tip February 20, 2015

February Birthstone: Amethyst

February BirthstoneAmethyst is a violet variety of quartz. A stone of wisdom, February’s Amethyst draws forth one’s intuition in order to bring clarity to emotions, feelings, and values. Amethyst is a semiprecious stone and is the traditional birthstone for February. Amethyst owes its violet color to irradiation, iron impurities, and the presence of trace elements.

Let’s take a look at the history of Amethyst and what makes it so beautiful!


Amethyst Cluster

Amethyst cluster from Magaliesburg, South Africa.

Hue and Tone

Amethyst occurs in primary hues from a light pinkish violet to a deep purple. Amethyst may exhibit one or both secondary hues, red and blue. The best varieties of Amethysts can be found in Siberia, Sri Lanka, Brazil and the far East.

14X7mm Marquise Light Amethyst CZ - Pack of 1

The ideal grade is called “Deep Siberian” and has a primary purple hue of around 75–80%, with 15–20% blue and (depending on the light source) red secondary hues.

15x20mm Rectangle Amethyst CZ - Pack of 1


Amethyst was used as a gemstone by the ancient Egyptians and was largely employed in antiquity for intaglio engraved gems.

Roman intaglio engraved gem of Caracalla in amethyst, once in the Treasury of Sainte-Chapelle.

The Greeks believed amethyst gems could prevent intoxication, while medieval European soldiers wore amethyst amulets as protection in battle in the belief that amethysts heal people and keep them cool-headed.

Beads of amethyst were found in Anglo-Saxon graves in England. Western Christian bishops wear an episcopal ring often set with an amethyst, an allusion to the description of the Apostles as “not drunk” at Pentecost.

Amethyst 10mm Round Beads - 8 Inch Strand

Amethyst 10mm Round Beads – 8 Inch Strand

Amethyst 5x15mm Chip Gemstone Beads - 8 Inch Strand

Amethyst 8x16mm Rice Beads – 8 Inch Strand

Amethyst 8x16mm Rice Beads - 8 Inch Strand

Amethyst 8x16mm Rice Beads – 8 Inch Strand

Synthetic Amethyst:

Synthetic amethyst is produced by gamma-ray, x-ray or electron beam irradiation of clear quartz which has been first doped with ferric impurities. Synthetic amethyst is made to imitate the best quality amethyst. Its chemical and physical properties are so similar to that of natural amethyst that it can not be differentiated with absolute certainty without advanced gemological testing.

Where it’s found:

Amethyst is produced in abundance in Brazil where it occurs in large geodes within volcanic rocks. It is also found and mined in South Korea. The largest opencast amethyst vein in the world is in, Lower Austria. Much fine amethyst comes from Russia, but one of the largest global amethyst producers is Zambia in southern Africa with an annual production of about 1000 tons.

An amethyst geode that formed when large crystals grew in open spaces inside the rock.

Amethyst occurs at many places in the United States. Among these are the Mazatzal Mountain region in Gia and Maricopa Counties, Arizona, Red Feather Lakes, near Ft Collins, Colorado; Amethyst Mountain, Texas; Yellowstone National Parke, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Maine, Wisconsin and Michigan. The largetst amethyst mine in North America is located in Thurdar Bay, Ontario.

Using Amethyst Birthstones and Gemstones:

If you were born in February you probably already know all about amethyst because it’s your birthstone. Did you also know that it’s the 9th wedding anniversary gemstone? This gorgeous, deep purple colored stone twinkles and shines in the light. Our dark amethyst cubic zirconia will be a hit for any project! Pick out your amethyst CZ today!

Cubic Zirconia Amethyst Gemstones:

I hope you enjoyed learning about Amethyst!

Happy Wrapping!



More about Amethyst

International Colored Gemstone

Spring Cleaning… Ring Cleaning!

by Judy Ellis, Wire-Sculpture.com

Daily Wire Jewelry Tip February 18, 2015

Spring Cleaning… Ring Cleaning!

It has been a very strange winter here in Utah. We’ve had minimal snow with record warm temperatures and a lot of sunshine. This has prompted green grass, early flower buds and the feeling that Spring is right around the corner!

Since it was so nice outside I decided I would begin some of my Spring cleaning. At my house this consists of opening all the windows, getting out the mops, scrubbing gloves, rags and the cleaner.. It includes windows, walls, doors, dressers and blinds – all the places that the winter dust congregates!

As I was dusting my dresser I thought, why not pull out my rings and necklaces and give them a good cleaning as well.  So, today I thought I’d share a few ideas about keeping your jewelry clean and healthy!

How to keep your rings looking beautiful:

Why take your rings to a professional jeweler? During a professional ring cleaning, the jeweler helps keep rings in ideal condition and protects your investment by inspecting the ring for signs of any damage, loose stones, and checking prongs and mountings to ensure diamonds are secure.

  • Rings should be professionally cleaned every six months.
  • Cleaned at home monthly to help remove built up body oil, perspiration, household products, etc.

Cleaning rings also offers health benefits. Most people know that hand washing helps prevent the spread of germs, but have never considered that rings can harbor germs.

  • A study* of ICU nurses revealed that even after hand washing, nurses who wore rings had a higher amount of bacteria on their hands than those who did not.
  • A second study** revealed that after a thorough hand washing, there was a higher number of germs present on ring fingers than on fingers where no ring was worn. The best way to guard against illness is by removing rings before washing both hands and rings separately.

Doing it yourself – Cleaning your jewelry at home:

We have several great articles on our blog, but take a look at this one one on How to Clean Copper and Brass Jewelry; CLICK HERE for the article. You can also read more about Helping your Silver Jewerly Survive the Summer. This is a great article as we being prepping for the summer months!

Cleaning and Polishing Supplies for all jewelry:

In less than two minutes you can easily remove tarnish and oxidation to restore the shine and brilliance to all silver jewelry. ShineBrite will even remove Liver of Sulphur! Instantly bring out lost shine to sterling silver, fine silver, and silver plating.

Simply place silver pieces into the included basket, let it soak for up to two minutes and then rinse with warm water. Dry and polish with a soft cloth. ShineBrite is made in the USA and is biodegradable. Does not have a bad smell or odor and comes in an 8 ounce container. Not recommended for use on soft stones (pearls, opals, etc.).

Line Break

Polishing Cloths - Pack of 4

Polishing Cloths – Pack of 4

These cloths can be used to polish wire and sheet metal but you must put some red rouge on them. They do not come pre impregnated with polish. Just lay them down and scratch your red rouge bar against them about 10 times and their ready to polish. —Four piece colored terry wiping cloth set

Line Break

For the beginner or the professional, this tumbler is the ideal tumbler for the home jeweler or lapidary. It has a 3lb capacity with one rubber barrel. Does a quality job of hardening wire and brings a professional finish to gold and silver wire jewelry. Can also be used to tumble polish rough gem material. Perfect size for the home jeweler short on space.

This cleaning solution is biodegradable, safe, fast and easy to use. Simply spray a mist of QuikBrite onto the object to be cleaned.

Allow it to set one to two minutes and wipe off with a clean cotton cloth. This cleaner contains enzymes to remove all body oils, general debris and grime accumulated on all jewelry and stones. QuikBrite is organic in nature and is non-toxic. It contains no phenols, ammonia, sulphur compounds, nitrates or harmful components.

Line Break

Used for polishing and buffing gold filled wire, 14 karat gold wire, silver, brass, and copper. 1/4 pound bar. Does not contain any coarse material. Great for creating a mirror finish on all metals.

Line Break

This great new polisher from EURO TOOL is smaller than a mouse pad. It has pre-lubricated ball bearings and a dust-proof motor housing that makes it almost maintenance free. This precision polisher is well balanced so you don’t have to sacrifice quality or speed. It works with standard wheels and buffs up to 4″.

This polisher includes 2 tapered spindles, 2 medium abrasive wheels and 2 replacement motor brushes. It is 110 volts with 1/6 HP motor. It is UL listed and has a variable speed from 1,800 to 7,500 RPM. 1-year warranty.

If you’re looking to just do a little personal “spring cleaning” or if you need cleaning and polishing supplies for the jewelry that you create and sell, we carry everything you need to keep your jewelry in tip-top-shape! Take a look at our CLEANING AND POLISHING supplies today!

Happy Wrapping!



*A Prospective Comparative Study of the Relationship Between Different Types of Rings and Microbial Hand Colonization Among Pediatric Intensive Care Unit Nurses

**The Number and Type of Microorganisms on the Ring Finger After Handwashing

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