Using Oxidation, Black Rhodium and Black Enamel for Black Jewelry


Heart Pink Sapphire Ring with Special Finishes, Calla Gold Jewelry

This Fabulous Multi-Sapphire Ring Shows Off Matte, Stippling, Hammering and Oxidizing Finishes

How Would you Like to Add Intrigue and Depth to a Piece of Your Jewelry? If you’d like a little walk on the wild side with your jewelry, you might like to think about adding the Kiss of Night, (a touch of black), to your precious treasures. Great Jewelers are always experimenting with new ways to add cool finishes to make your jewelry more distinctive.

Because of your interest and your jeweler’s interest in making your jewelry distinctive, this blog will share the jeweler’s secrets about adding the kiss of night to your jewelry. Whether you want little touches or bold black jewelry details, you’ll want to read about the four ways jewelers create these wow effects.

Four Jeweler’s Secrets: Creating Black Jewelry Details

From These Humble Bottles, We Get Oxidation And Blackening

These four jeweler’s secrets for black jewelry can change the look of your pieces dramatically. It’s good to have choices, perhaps one is perfect for you.

1.    Oxidation. Special acids when applied to the surface of gold cause it to darken or “oxidize.”

2.    Blackening. In blackening, a paint-like liquid  is brushed onto the surface  and worked down into the nooks and crannies. It’s polished on top to leave the recesses dark.

3.    Black Rhodium. In this process, jewelry is dipped in an electrolysis solution and the rhodium molecules adhere to the gold. Depending on the chemical solution, variations of color—from gray to black—can be achieved. It’s the closest you can get to black jewelry (I’d tell you more, but then you’d get the kiss of death. Actually I don’t know the secret formula either.)

4.    Black enamel. Enamel is baked onto the surface of jewelry, much like similar liquids are applied to ceramic pieces. The result is a hard, smooth and shiny covering.

Oxidation differs from black rhodium in that it is applied directly to the piece of jewelry usually in certain recessed places, rather than being plated all over.

Blackening and oxidation are similar, but blackening is more paint-like, whereas oxidation creates its effect from applying a chemical to create a reaction.

Enameling is more expensive than any of the other blackening techniques, with good reason, it is the strongest and most lasting.

Can I Make my Ring Black Gold?

How Black Rhodium Wears Off

If you cover your entire gold ring with one of these black options, making it look completely black, that does not make it black gold. In fact the areas that get the most wear allow these finishes to wear off quicker. 

Walk on  the Wild Side and Add That Drama

Black Rhodium on Hand Engraved Engagement Ring-black jewelry

This Trinity Ring Uses Black Rhodium Finish to Create Depth

The ring to the left with this hand engraved design, shows the black rhodium detailing, which nestles down in the crevices. This creates a look of depth and smoky interest. When you choose to darken up sections of your piece of jewelry, it will create a more dramatic or antique look which adds more of a three dimensional feeling.

The contrast between the dark and light, highlights certain features and draws your eye to little details, therefore look for places on your design where the black jewelry touch would add interest, rather than trying to get the full all-black look. The best black jewelry isn’t really all black, it’s the combination of light and dark that inspires the imagination.

“How Long Does it Last?”

Black enamel on yellow gold man's band

Man’s Wide Ring With Black Enamel

Each of these finishes can wear off, but most importantly, they can also all be reapplied. In a perfect world when you design with these details have a jeweler handy who touches them up.

The black enamel is the most durable and gives a shiny surface look, whereas black rhodium can look shiny or matte depending on the underlying design and textures.

Oxidation and Blackening tend to give a more matte finish look.

Any of these solutions when used on parts of the ring that get a lot of touching will find those areas wearing off sooner. These solutions work best in protected areas of your rings. By protected areas I mean areas that are not a flat shiny expanse of gold. Areas with texture, recessed areas, and parts of your ring protected by nearby design elements.

Black Jewelry Touches, Add Beauty and Solve Problems – Three Jewelry Design Secrets

Rose gold, black rhodium, vintage ring-black jewelry

Rose Gold, Yellow-ish Diamond and Black Oxidation

Blackening a piece of jewelry can add to its beautiful look and help conceal little problems. Trisha’s ring design to the left had a pretty big problem to solve. We used three jeweler’s secrets for this project to make it sing.

Trisha’s center diamond was chosen for its size and shape. It had a yellowish color, however it was not yellow enough to rock a yellow hue, but it was way off white.

Secret #1 – We made her ring out of rose gold because it is quite forgiving of off-color diamonds.

Secret #2 – We chose a vintage design which also is forgiving to off-color diamonds.

Secret #3 – We used black oxidation in the recesses around the little side diamonds to create more drama, which further helped the center diamond to look sparkly and like the beautiful focal point that it is.

“How Can I Get The Kiss of Night?”

Black Rhodium Over Yellow Gold

Whether you are just “over” a piece of your jewelry, or look at it now and you don’t feel the wow you used to, or you have a dated piece that you’re not ready to redesign, but it needs something, I say try giving it the Kiss of Night. Add that black!

Are you designing a new piece of jewelry and looking for a way to set it apart from what you are used to?

Contact your favorite jeweler and see if they offer these options.

You might just fall in love all over again!

Your Personal Jeweler,

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About Calla Gold

Calla Gold is a Personal Jeweler and Author who takes pride in working with clients one-on-one to integrate their personal sense of style and taste into custom designed jewelry and repaired jewelry pieces.   Unlike typical Santa Barbara jewelry businesses, Calla Gold has no brick-and-mortar location. Calla Gold comes to you, bringing you the jewelry collection you want to see and collaborating with you to create unique custom jewelry. Calla also works with at-a-distance clients.

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Dr. Lynn K. Jones
13 years ago

Calla, You have so many interesting, creative approaches to making beautiful jewelry!

Sue Manseau
Sue Manseau
13 years ago

I’m so fascinated to see the little bottles that that the special finishes come from. You’re like an alchemist turning straw into gold.
Except that you turn gold into sexy dark detail, next to the shiny awesome sunshine of the rest of it.
Thanks for the pictures and explanations.
Sue Manseau

klusjesman overijssel
klusjesman overijssel
12 years ago

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Order Queens Apartment Cleaning
12 years ago

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Warren Steuber
12 years ago

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Jorge Aste
Jorge Aste
12 years ago

Hi! I understand this is sort of off-topic but I needed to ask. Does building a well-established website such as yours require a lot of work? I am completely new to writing a blog but I do write in my journal every day. I’d like to start a blog so I can share my personal experience and thoughts online. Please let me know if you have any recommendations or tips for new aspiring bloggers. Appreciate it!

Damion Mcelhenney
Damion Mcelhenney
10 years ago

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6 years ago

Does the Rhodium work on silver or is there anything else I can do

5 years ago

Nice Design Black Rhodium not Long lasting