Jul 16

Using Oxidation, Black Rhodium and Black Enamel for Black Jewelry

By Calla Gold

How Would you Like to Add Intrigue and Depth to a Piece of Your Jewelry?

Heart Pink Sapphire Ring with Special Finishes, Calla Gold Jewelry

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

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.

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.

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.

Carol’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,
Calla

19 thoughts on “Using Oxidation, Black Rhodium and Black Enamel for Black Jewelry

  1. 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

  2. Good day! I know this is kinda off topic but I was wondering which blog platform are you using for this site? I’m getting sick and tired of WordPress because I’ve had issues with hackers and I’m looking at alternatives for another platform. I would be great if you could point me in the direction of a good platform.

    • Hello blog reader,
      I use the WordPress platform and it seems to work well for me.
      WP is the only platform I’ve had experience with. Good luck to you.
      Calla Gold

  3. Hi! I know this is sort of off-topic however I needed to ask. Does managing a well-established website like yours require a large amount of work? I am brand new to running a blog but I do write in my journal every day. I’d like to start a blog so I can easily share my experience and views online. Please let me know if you have any recommendations or tips for new aspiring blog owners. Appreciate it!

  4. I don’t even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was great. I do not know who you are but certainly you are going to a famous blogger if you aren’t already 😉 Cheers!

  5. 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!

    • Jorge,
      As a busy Jeweler, I knew that building a great website wasn’t something I could do. After much searching I decided I needed a marketing plan to guide my website decisions I used Web Marketing Therapy.com to do my marketing plan and they also oversaw the website build-out.
      Keep up with your journaling. When you practice your writing it makes it easier to blog consistently.
      I recommend WordPress as I’ve had such good luck with it. It’s pretty easy to use once you get used to it.
      Hopefully that helps.
      Calla Gold

  6. Darm,
    My blog design was custom made for me by Web Marketing Therapy(.com) on a WordPress platform.
    I’m glad you like the look.
    Calla Gold

  7. I just want to mention I am just newbie to blogging and definitely likeed you’re weblog page. Probably I’m going to bookmark your site . You absolutely come with fabulous articles and reviews. Thanks a lot for sharing with us your blog.

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

    • Hi Shelly,
      When you want to introduce black or shadowy grey details on silver I find that the live of sulphur tarnishes it up big time and fairly quickly. It is actually more difficult as a jeweler to introduce the darkening on white gold because it doesn’t react much to chemicals. Silver on the other hand is very reactive.
      Your Personal Jeweler,
      Calla

    • Hi Raj,
      You are right that the treatments we use to darken up our designs do wear off and need to be re-applied.
      Your Personal Jeweler,
      Calla

  9. Hello,
    I just purchased a cross necklace and a 22-inch rope chain is 2mm wide, its crafted of quality sterling silver, and is finished by black rhodium. I got it from Shane company and have lifetime warranty which includes cleanings and repairs etc. Do you think the rhodium will last or should I of not purchased it? Thank you.

    • Hi Michael,
      If you like it and felt the price was fair and you don’t mind that the finish won’t last forever, then enjoy it. They should be able to put the finish back on when it wears off.
      Your Personal Jeweler,
      Calla

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