As it gets older, silver jewelry or silverware tends to darken and sometimes to take a characteristic shade of antique jewelry while keeping the shine of silver.

 Most of the time, we try to avoid the dulling of the silver by protecting it from the contact of the air containing the hydrogen sulphides responsible for its blackening. However, this is only possible when you store your jewelry, so you have to clean them most of the time, which is what most people try to do in order to keep the natural silver luster of their jewelry.

aged silver ring

However, it happens sometimes that some jewels are more beautiful and much more highlighted when the silver is blackened. This is particularly the case of engraved jewelry, for which the finesse of the engraving is visible to the eye only thanks to the contrast given by the aged silver next to polished silver.

How to age silver jewelry ?

We have already explained that hydrogen sulphides blacken silver jewelry. This natural reaction takes time depending on the jewel's exposure to these chemicals.

In the jewelry shop, one can sometimes want to give the same blackened aspect to silver without waiting. The use of ammonium sulphide on the jewel will blacken it completely where this liquid has acted on the metal. The action of ammonium sulphide is immediate and lasts only a few seconds to let it react only with the superficial layer of silver.

This aging technique will have little interest in a smooth jewel, however, silver jewelry with reliefs can easily be polished later to leave the layer of silver oxide reliefs. The jewel will then reveal the detail of the engravings and will totally transform the jewel.

If you want to know more about a homemade technique, watch this video that explains how to age your silver jewelry.

Example of an aged silver men's ring with engraved Aztec calendar

Nous proposions à la vente cette bague aztèque en argent 925, gravée avec le calendrier aztèque.

Comme vous pouvez le constater, la gravure se voit floue, car il y a peu de contrastes entre l'argent des creux et des reliefs. Suite à la demande d'une internaute intéressée par cette bague, nous l'avons vieilli puis poli, vous pouvez alors constater le résultat sur l'aspect général de la bague et sur la visibilité du calendrier gravé.


 Aged silver ring

new Aztec ring after aging treatment of sterling silver


On the one hand, we see better the contrasts of the engraving of the ring once aged and in addition, the silver reliefs having been blackened and polished, took a deeper reflection, close to that of antique jewelry.

To achieve the same result naturally, it would have been several months since the entire ring tarnished, then clean with a jewelry wipe and rub on the reliefs of the ring. We could have obtained a similar rendering.


Here's a video (fr) showing you how easy it is to age silver jewelry with ammonium sulphate :

Who offers this service to age silver jewelry ?

Blackening technique of silver jewelry is usually employed by jewelers doing antique jewelry restoration work. Indeed, to repair a jewel that has a lived and is already weathered naturally over time, the jeweler will have to alter this surface condition by working on the jewel. Welding, hammering or polishing will completely change the appearance silver jewelry. As a result, the jeweler will have to completely clean the jewel to give it a uniform shiny appearance and then blacken and polish it to restore its original patina appearance.

To learn more about jewelry restoration training, visit the Saumur Training Institute  (fr) page with the previous link.


For further : 

September 03, 2019 — Hugo Maherault

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