What is Oxidized Sterling Silver? (aka Blackened Silver)
Blackened silver has become a trendy force in the jewelry world. Its alluring depth adds an edge to any look, and its contrasting color makes diamonds and gemstones extra eye-catching. But what exactly is oxidized sterling silver? Here’s what you should know about this popular jewelry trend.
What Is Blackened Silver?
Blackened or oxidized silver is genuine sterling silver, but its outer surface has been purposely darkened via a chemical process. This essentially speeds up the natural tarnishing process, creating an attractive dark patina, which consists of a layer of silver sulfide on the exterior of the metal.
While blackened silver is commonly known as oxidized sterling silver, this is actually a misnomer since the process is caused by the addition of sulfides rather than oxygen. Even still, the industry has widely adopted this terminology even though it’s not technically accurate.
Jewelers typically use a chemical potassium sulfide compound such as liver of sulfur to blacken the outer surface of silver jewelry. The process can generate an incredibly diverse range of colors. At maximum strength, you will get an alluring matte gunmetal black. With a controlled application, however, an entire rainbow of colors can be achieved including purples, reds and yellows.
Like every other patina, oxidized silver is only a surface treatment and will not alter the internal properties or color of the metal.
Breathtaking Jewelry Pieces
Oxidized silver’s beautiful black patina yields stunning jewelry pieces with an alluring edge. Some of our favorites are found in John Atencio’s Duplex and Elixir collections, which feature a range of uniquely intriguing jewelry pieces with compelling blackened silver attributes.
The debut collection of John’s son, Lex Atencio, Duplex blends the modern drama and sleek lines familiar to John Atencio with Lex’s desire to craft an attainable jewelry collection for a new generation. Showcasing 14K yellow gold, black-oxidized silver and dazzling diamonds, Duplex includes dazzling dangle earrings, a sleek, pave ring, a seductive hinged bracelet and an alluring pendant. Duplex is a new look that perfectly pairs with your unique fashion statement.
Inspired by the gorgeous marquise gemstone, Elixir is John Atencio’s tribute to the beautiful, unerring power of femininity. In this new sterling silver collection, John blends soft curves with strong angles and a touch of blackened silver. Lustrous 14K gold accents bring his artistry to another level, especially when paired with pave diamonds, colorful amethyst and breathtaking London blue topaz.
Both of these collections include beautifully crafted pieces with varying amounts of oxidized silver throughout. That said, John has numerous other gorgeous blackened silver jewelry pieces available online and at his many convenient locations. If you’re interested in adding oxidized silver to your collection, John Atencio is the place to start.
How Does it Wear?
As we previously stated, blackened silver is just a surface treatment. Since only the top layer of metal is affected, the oxidized finish will polish off over time, especially if you subject your jewelry pieces to a lot of wear and tear.
Blackened finishes will have the longest lifespans on jewelry pieces that have minimal contact with other surfaces. While necklaces and earrings are ideal, bracelets and rings often require re-treatment more often. Oxidized finishes in the recesses of a jewelry design tend to hold their color longest while the elevated areas of a piece are more likely to polish up over time.
With all this in mind, it’s best to remove your blackened silver jewelry if you anticipate aggressive contact. You should also take it off when showering or washing your hands to protect the dark color. In general, blackened silver jewelry should never be cleaned with aggressive polishing or jewelry cleaning dips. If cleaning becomes necessary, use mild water-based dish soap and soft cloth that will not strip the blackened surface.
It’s also good to remember that the oxidized finish of your blackened silver jewelry can be restored at any time. With proper care, however, this should be an infrequent necessity, especially if you shop at a reputable jeweler like John Atencio.
At John Atencio, we use the highest quality materials to create distinctive statement pieces and stunning wearable art. Browse our online collection or schedule an appointment at one of our many locations, where our team can help you select a stunning piece of jewelry for yourself or the special people on your gift list.