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  • alisonberthelsen

Looks like a bomb making factory...but it's not!

Updated: Jun 10, 2021

I have been attempting to teach myself new patination techniques, in an effort to achieve new colours/patterns. As a result I have been making all kinds of smells that would make your eyes water, not to mention feel sick....

So armed with some books and a little bit of know how, I gathered my various items of necessity, safety, and random other bits of kit that 'just might be useful' and created myself a work station.

I didn't realise quite how addictive scientific (if you can call it that) experiments could become!


So the above picture shows some of the early preparation stages.

I photographed and logged EVERYTHING. Checking on developing, and hoped for colours every 6-12 hours over and up to 3 days per experiment.

And I did quite a few! Goodness it was was like having a small child to tend to (laugh emoji)

So how did the experiments go?

Well, very quickly I realised I was back to school with my exercise book - ingredients, method, observations & conclusions.

Took time (days/weeks) to discover I had done things wrong. Or should have added more or less of something, or simply had used the wrong material to develop a hoped for look.

Materials I used included things like: sawdust, ammonia, pencil shavings, hair, salt & vinegar. Masks and ventilation most definitely required!

I achieved all sorts of interesting results, but not necessarily any thing stunning or beautiful.

Until finally I hit on what I have been looking for.....

Rainbow colours of oxidisation

This is one of the pieces of scrap silver I experimented on (already recycled), and as you can see I managed to achieve a range of colours. From a yellow, through red, purple to blue and finally the deep steel grey tone above.

The different colours were dependent not just on the right mix but also the length of time dipped and the temperature of the liquid.

But also a little scrubbing with a bi-carb paste in between each dip.

Simply marvellous results I was able achieve.


(isn't there always a but!?)

Nothing is guaranteed.

Sometimes these colours can be a tad elusive.

And also colours will eventually change. They can be worn away by invasive fingers. Most of us have a tendency to rub our jewellery either absent mindedly or for comfort, and this always 'polishes up' metal, whether it be oxidised or satin finished.

We jewellers do keep this in mind & consider carefully where we place such finishes. However, sometimes, to achieve the desired look, the finish will be on parts that will polish up.

Not to say that they can't be restored! And I am always happy to do this for jewellery purchased from me.

Ultimately, my jewellery being worn and living it's best life in optimum condition, is my best advert.

So I would always rather hear from someone if their piece is looking sorry for itself & needs some TLC!

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