Oxidation & Antiquing

“Antiquing” or “oxidizing” silver is fairly common in the jewelry industry. It results in a patina finish, which darkens details and engraved areas on jewelry so that they’re more visible.

There are several methods to achieve this process, but the most common uses a solution known as Liver of Sulfur (LOS). LOS is a mixture of two chemicals, 25% potassium trisulfide and 75% hydrated potassium thiosulfate. It reacts with the copper in sterling silver and leaves a blackened coating on the surface called silver sulfide.

LOS itself is moderately toxic, mostly because of the gas it releases during use. The actual solution of LOS does not remain on the surface of the jewelry after use; part of the process of using LOS is submerging the jewelry in a neutralization bath to, well, neutralize any remaining solution. After the neutralization bath, only the resulting silver sulfides (the blackened coating) remain. Antiqued or oxidized jewelry is completely safe for skin contact.

After jewelry is antiqued or oxidized, the piece goes through extensive polishing and cleaning so that the darkened coating only remains in the engraved areas and details of a piece. The darkened silver sulfides are generally not toxic in the small traces left on your jewelry. However, we still recommend that you not put any antiqued/oxidized jewelry in your mouth, as it may cause minor stomach irritation – not to mention, it’s just weird to put your jewelry in your mouth.

You can read the msds here for ingestion of larger quantities/higher concentrations.

We’re here to answer any questions you may have about the safety of ShineOn jewelry. Email us at helpme@shineon.com.

“Why is my jewelry leaving marks on my skin?”

Almost everyone can relate to the shock of removing a ring and finding a black or green stain encircling your finger. While this can be blamed on an inexpensive base metal used in jewelry, you might be surprised to find out that even fine jewelry (such as Sterling Silver or Gold) can react with certain chemicals and oils to produce similar effects.

Continue reading ““Why is my jewelry leaving marks on my skin?””

Black Rhodium: Welcome to the Dark Side

While bright white silver finishes have long been staples in fine jewelry, up and coming trends are taking a darker turn and favoring materials like black rhodium that offer an edgier, more dramatic look.

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Our Jeep Tire Ring looks dashing in Black Rhodium

Black rhodium is a well kept secret among jewelers, many of whom will not disclose the exact proportions of ingredients in the plating baths that produce the various hues of gray-black silver. These secrets are so well guarded that when asked about the specifics of the process, industry professionals often give a quasi-joking response along the lines of, “if I told you, I’d have to kill you.” Without earning a spot on our jeweler’s hitlist, we can tell you that black rhodium is an alloy of the same rhodium used in white gold. A certain, inky chemical is added to the rhodium and bonds with the metal and the resulting solution is used in an electroplating bath.

Because black rhodium is plated, you’ll never find a piece of jewelry made entirely of black rhodium. Given its rarity as a mineral (it is the rarest metal in the world), as well as its durability, rhodium is a natural selection as a plating material; it provides resistance to abrasions and tarnish while using a relatively small amount.

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Loose and pressed rhodium metal. Image Credit:  Alchemist-hp, CC BY-SA 3.0 de

The deep, gunmetal grey gives traditional jewelry a more dramatic flair and it perfect for pieces with designs or engraving, as these tend to stand out more with time, even when the plating begins to fade. Like most metal plating, with significant wear and use, plating will eventually begin to rub away and need to be re-plated every few years. Thankfully, many jewelers are capable of replating a piece for less than $100, a small investment in keeping your jewelry looking like new.

Rhodium is found naturally in trace amounts within platinum and nickel ores, making it exceptionally difficult to collect. Its rarity, along with its desirable properties, has at times driven the price of rhodium to eight times higher than the price of gold. However, recent changes in the supply of car manufacturers, which use rhodium for catalytic converters, have increased the use of recycled rhodium and boosted above ground supplies of the precious metal. Out of the world’s supply of rhodium, only a small amount is used in jewelry. Its recent use in high end retailers like Tiffany and David Yurman, however, have driven its popularity and demand significantly over the last 10-20 years.

Whether you prefer the traditional bright silver rhodium or it’s deeper black alternative, there’s a jewelry style out there for everyone. Let us know in the comments what YOU think of black rhodium!

July’s Birthstone: Resplendent Rubies

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From Dorothy’s slippers to sacred stones of ancient Hindus, rubies have always been one of the most treasured precious stones known to man. One of the four precious stones, fine rubies are extremely valuable and have set record high sales prices close to $100,000 per carat. There’s more to July’s birthstone than meets the eye, however. Continue reading “July’s Birthstone: Resplendent Rubies”

Your Jewelry’s Journey: Plating

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Psst.. like that ring? You can order one here!

Plating is the process of overlaying a thin layer of a metal like gold, silver or rhodium over a base metal. Almost any item can be plated, and is very common in fine jewelry since plating is a great way to improve the appearance of jewelry. It also adds a layer of protection to a piece, as the outer layer of metal enhances scratch and corrosion resistance. Here at ShineOn, we offer several variations of plated jewelry, including most of our gold and rose gold pieces. The process of plating is fascinating, and our jewelers meticulously follow these steps almost every day. Read on to see how we make our plated pieces sparkle! Continue reading “Your Jewelry’s Journey: Plating”

Gem Cuts and Shapes: It’s a Bling Thing

1200px-Collection_of_Amethyst_GemstonesPhoto Credit: Michelle Jo via CC BY 3.0

Sparkling gems and crystals are easy to be entranced by – the way they catch the light, glittering in their setting on a ring, in a pendant or in earrings. But the shape and cut of the stones are integral to what gives them their sparkle. Here is a selection of some of the most popular gem cuts in the market today. Continue reading “Gem Cuts and Shapes: It’s a Bling Thing”