I'm really getting into oxidizing my silver jewelry. Everytime I make a piece I'm tempted to oxidize it instead of leaving it shiny. I love the look of it and it's a nice switch from traditional shiny silver. Plus you don't have to worry about the maintenance of polishing all the time.
It's very easy to acheive the antiqued look. If you're planning on oxidizing many pieces, liver of sulphur gel from Rio Grande works great.
For this method I heat up a small bowl of water in the microwave; about a minute or so. It's important that your water is hot enough but not too hot that it's boiling. Then I just spoon a small amount of the gel in and mix it until it's dissolved. I dip my piece in and let it sit for about 30 seconds and then check it. It works pretty quickly so you don't need to leave it in too long.
Then I just rinse with cold water. I do this with finished pieces including stones depending on what I'm using. For my turquoise earrings I oxidized just the metal then added the stones in last.
Oh I forgot to mention. It's very stinky:) Unless you like the smell of rotten eggs. Anyway, after all that I buff with some fine steel wool then maybe go over with my polishing cloth depending on the look I want.
If you are wanting to just try a piece or two to experiment, you can also use the egg method.
Here's what you'll need:
A baggie that seals
Boil the egg then place it in the baggie along with the jewelry you are wanting to oxidize. I don't bother peeling the egg as it's really not necessary. Seal the bag then smush the egg. Yep, that's it. Smush, smash, squish, squash, whatever you want to call it, as long as you expose the cooked egg. If you want to be neat about it you can slice it in fours with a knife. But that's boring.
Then let it sit until your item is darkened. It can take a few minutes so I'd let it sit for as long as it's needed. I've found that if it doesn't totally oxidize you can reheat the egg for a few seconds and then re-seal it with your jewelry.
The jewelry doesn't have to be touching the egg but it's fine if it does. Just rinse with cool water when finished.
This is great for textured, hammered and wire wrapped pieces. I don't normally seal them but you can use a clear acrylic lacquer if your worried about wear.