What’s a patina, you ask?

I thought I would address the question of patina today, as in what the heck is it? I understand that the lingo can get a little overwhelming sometimes, especially when different sources use different terms. So, in an effort to simplify things let me say that when jewelry is described as: patinated (having a patina), oxidized, or antiqued – it’s all talking about the same thing.

Patina literally refers to the tarnish that forms on the surface of copper, bronze, and similar metals due to oxidation or other chemical processes. The Statue of Liberty is a prime example of a naturally occurring patina. Jewelry artists and metal workers often deliberately add a patina as part of the design. There are many different techniques, and each can create a slightly different effect.

I mostly use liver of sulfur with my work; it’s really smelly, but I like the consistent results. It’s a meticulous process of hand polishing to remove the excess patina, followed by a spin in the tumbler. I really love the earthy warm tones this process brings out in my copper pieces, and to me the silver isn’t really finished until it’s had a go too. The details just seem to pop, and the piece has more character.

Here are a few photos to show what all this actually means in visual terms. In each set the picture on the left is the “before” patina, and the picture on the right is “after” with the patina added. (Click image to enlarge)



Two Pairs of MagpiesIMG_0553

Hope you enjoyed my ramblings…



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