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May 23, 2018

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“The dark oxidized look of my jewelry is wearing away, exposing the silver. Is that supposed to happen!?”

Those who know me and my designs know that mixing metals is one of my signature aesthetics. I adore the way bright gold looks with dark, matte oxidized silver. I also adore blending together a palette of gold, silver and black (ummm, yes please!!) If you aren’t familiar with this look, just check out one of my favorite pieces, the Thick Black & Gold Square Bangle from the Black & Gold collection to see what I mean.

Oxidizing silver creates a gorgeously distinctive and stunning surface treatment and over time, it has a really beautiful antiqued look. This happens to silver jewelry over time as it’s exposed to oxygen, but the look can also be created purposely by exposing silver to sulfur. This is how we at CMD give our oxidized pieces that dark, beautiful black finish in our studio. It’s a labor of love, for sure!

Pure silver generally needs to be polished and cleaned on a regular basis to prevent tarnish. Similarly, oxidation can be buffed out of the silver over time, especially on pieces you wear often. Rings and bangles are usually subject to more friction, oils, water, and general wear than earrings or necklaces so they’ll likely fade quicker.

Oxidation is a little like a science experiment of sorts. It’s always been interesting to me that some people’s jewelry holds oxidation better than others. We all have such different chemical makeups to our skin, and it can be hard to predict what will happen. For some, oxidation rubs off fairly quickly and for others it can last a while.

I have one customer that frequents Wilbur Hot Springs, which isn’t far from us here in San Francisco. Every time she goes, she brings her silver jewelry to re-oxidize in the Springs! I was so pleased when she showed me the results of her journey to the springs.  Sulfur really does the trick!

Funny story. Another customer came in recently, having recently purchased one of our new silver Special Occasion Bands (with diamonds now, yes!). She was confused as to why her brand silver had turned black (and only in one spot), and how it could have transformed over the course of a weekend. I asked if she had jumped in a pool (it happens) – she hadn’t. She said, “Well, I made some deviled eggs.”  Ahhh, I screeched, “The eggs!”. The sulfur in the eggs caused the chemical reaction that turned her ring black. Note to self: take off rings before making the deviled eggs.

So, yes. In short, your oxidized (black) silver jewelry will naturally lighten in color over time. It’s a bit unavoidable with love and wear. As the Whitney Museum in NYC put together a collection of our oxidized pieces recently, they described it very beautifully: “We love the unique wear that each user will experience. It is this aspect of the oxidized finish that we are most drawn to as we feel the end result is a collaboration between maker and wearer—a truly art related aspect of these pieces.” Love this!

As a courtesy to all our customers, we offer free re-oxidations. If you’d like to send your pieces back to us, we will re-oxidize and return them to you (we just ask that you pay for shipping). Just email showroom@colleenmauerdesigns and we’ll give you the skinny.

Colleen's Signature

1 Response


August 19, 2020

I don’t know if you are familiar with James Avery Jewelry or not. Regardless, I am the JA Specialist at Dillard’s. I have many pieces of silver jewelry. Some is oxidized. I recently got sidetracked and left it all in the silver cleaner too long. Now, the intentional black parts are pure white. Please help. Too many pieces to repurchase or go to the company over.

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