Oxidised Silver – Creating a Vintage or Edgy Look With Oxidised Jewellery

Oxidised Silver

Oxidised silver looks like well-worn, much-loved items of jewellery.  The finished article looks like naturally tarnished or oxidised jewellery, with the deeper crevices in the piece of oxidised jewellery ‘holding’ ‘more of the oxidation than the raised parts.

This gives the jewellery either vintage or antique look, or a contemporary, edgy look, depending on the actual style of the jewellery piece and the degree of oxidation.

Our aim in this blog is to cover everything you wanted to know about oxidised silver.  

  • What are the Pro’s and Con’s of Oxidised Silver?
  • What is oxidised jewellery? 
  • Is oxidised silver real silver
  • How is the effect achieved?
  • How long does it last?
  • Can you remove oxidation?
  • Can you re-oxidised a piece of your favourite jewellery?
  • How do you clean silver oxidised jewellery without removing the finish?



You won’t have to clean it as often

The effect is not permanent

Looks great with stones, making them really “pop”


The effect may not last as long on oxidised silver rings or bangles, as it does on pendants or earrings

Is an excellent choice for men’s jewellery 


Silver band ring with oxidised central channel
Oxidised Silver Ring

What Is Oxidised Silver?

Sterling silver will naturally ‘oxidise’ on contact with the environment and blacken slightly. This patina, or finish, occurs with a chemical reaction on the surface of the silver jewellery by hydrogen sulphide being laid down. Often called ‘tarnish‘, it can happen as a black or grey finish.  

We’ve all probably seen it on our silver jewellery which has been left for some time. Certain things will make it happen quicker, like perspiration on the item or perfumes. The tarnish can be removed from the surface with jewellery cleaning products or cloths if desired. 

Oxidised silver is a process of purposely oxidizing the piece of jewellery to achieve this blackened,  vintage or edgy look.  

Modern Charm bracelet by Trollbeads with a glass and silver bead on
Trollbeads Flutter By Bracelet

How Is Silver Oxidised?

The process of oxidising silver starts with a piece of finished sterling silver jewellery, which then has another method applied to its surface. This brings about this blackened finish on purpose.

It is a gradual, controlled process and there are degrees of oxidation. You can start with much lighter oxidation to deeper shades including blue, purple, green, to gunmetal grey on to a deep, dark almost-black surface.

While we say it’s a gradual process, it happens very quickly – often seconds. The skill is in achieving just the right amount of colouring for the desired effect.

Liver of sulphide is the chemical that is often used to achieve this oxidation, a potassium sulphide.

Does Oxidised Silver Wear Off?

The oxidation on a piece of silver jewellery will wear off over time. How quickly this happens depends on how well worn it is.  

An oxidised silver ring or bangle will not keep its finish as long as an oxidised pendant or earrings. This is due to the friction against the surface.

Inner crevices on the jewellery item will hold the oxidised colour longer than the raised more ‘polished’ parts. 

pair of silver moonstone drop earrings with a hook fitting
Oxidised Silver Earrings with Moonstone

Can You Re-Oxidise Silver Jewellery?

If you feel that a piece of your previously oxidised jewellery is looking a bit too polished and sparkly, you can always get it re-oxidised.  

The tricky bit can be achieving the ‘degree’ of blackness you wish to achieve as some oxidised pieces can appear very dark. 

Our advice is to take a photograph of a favourite piece of jewellery in case you ever need it re-oxidised, which can be shown to the jewellery repairer. 

How To Clean Oxidised Silver

The best way to clean your jewellery is to either:

  • If it is dirty, add a few drops of mild washing up liquid in warm soapy water and gently swill the item in the solution. Then dry on a soft cloth. Ideal polish with an Ultra-Soft Cleaning Cloth.
  • Polish gently with an Ultra-Soft Cleaning Cloth or Jewellery Wipe – both are great at removing surface tarnish but won’t affect the oxidation applied to the item.
  • Delicate Jewellery Cleaning Fluid – this is gentle enough for oxidised jewellery.

Can You Remove The Finish From Oxidised Jewellery?

This can be done in a jewellery workshop by polishing it off or even heating the item to ‘burn off’ the oxidation.

Having said, that we have tried, as an experiment, to remove the oxidation on a silver Trollbead bracelet which is oxidised and couldn’t remove the oxidation from the deep crevices. 

To Sum Up

We hope this has given you some insight into oxidised jewellery, which has gained in popularity in recent years and is much-loved in men’s jewellery.  

It’s a great way of accentuating highlights on jewellery pieces and believe it’s here to stay in jewellery design. 

Let us know what you think, or if you have any questions, please do pop them in the comments below. 

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