Have you ever seen a piece of blackened silver jewelry and wondered what it is? Or maybe you've seen oxidized silver and thought it was the same thing. Well, you're not alone! Many people think that blackened silver and oxidized silver are interchangeable terms, but they actually refer to two different processes. So, what is the difference between blackened silver and oxidized silver?


A piece of oxidized or black silver jewelry is genuine sterling silver, but the surface has been purposefully darkened by exposing it to a chemical process. The patina on silver oxide jewelry is a sped-up version of the natural tarnishing process. It is a surface color that occurs when silver is exposed to sulfides. A layer of silver sulfide forms on the metal's surface, giving it a blackened appearance.

A quick aside: The term silver oxide jewelry refers to the oxidation of silver. It is a misleading term because the process is caused by adding sulfides rather than the true oxidation of silver by oxygen. Nonetheless, the industry jargon has stuck, although it is not technically correct.

Jewelers use a chemical compound such as liver of sulfur, a potassium sulfide to create these oxidized finishes. The range of colors that can be obtained by oxidizing silver is extensive. The color will appear matte gunmetal black at full strength. A rainbow of colors, including blues, purples, yellows, and reds, can be achieved with a controlled application.

Oxidizing silver, like other patinas, is merely a surface treatment that does not affect the metal's internal color or properties.


Blackened silver is a metal that has been treated with a black patina. This gives it a dark, antique look that is perfect for jewelry and other decorative items. Blackened silver is also known as oxidized silver.

To create blackened silver, a jeweler will first apply a chemical solution to the metal. This will cause the silver to darken. The jeweler will then use a brush to apply a patina, which is a thin layer of black oxide. This will give the silver its final color.

Blackened silver is a popular choice for jewelry because it has a unique look that is different from traditional silver. It is also very durable and will not tarnish easily. Blackened silver is a great choice for those who want an antique look without the high price tag.


As previously stated, oxidizing silver is only a surface treatment. When silver is oxidized, only the top layer of metal particles becomes blackened. The oxidized finish will polish off over time and, depending on how much wear you give your pieces, revealing the true color of the silver.

The appearance of your blakening silver will gradually change over time, so it's best to prepare for this when you buy it.

Oxidation jewelry finishes last the longest on pieces that come into contact with their surroundings as little as possible, such as earrings and necklaces. Rings and bracelets lose their color faster because they rub on things we touch more frequently. Blackened finishes applied to a design's recesses tend to hold their color the best, while raised areas of the piece polish up over time.

Remove the dark color of your silver oxidized jewelry before any aggressive contact and when showering or washing your hands. You should not clean silver oxidized jewelry with jewelry cleaning dips or aggressive polishing that will remove the blackened surface. If cleaning is required, use a mild dish detergent and a soft toothbrush, rubbing as little as possible.

Oxidation jewelry finishes can be restored at any time. Simply ask the maker for a re-blackening or ask your local jeweler if they can touch up your oxidized finish.


So, what is the difference between blackened silver and oxidized silver? Black silver is sterling silver that has been treated with a chemical compound to create a blackened surface, while oxidized silver is sterling silver that has been exposed to oxygen to create a patina. Both processes result in a darkening of the silver, but black silver jewelry is created with a more controlled process and the oxidized silver is a more natural process. Over time, both finishes will wear and the true color of the silver will show through. With proper care, both finishes can be maintained and even restored.

Do you have any questions about blackened silver or oxidized silver? Feel free to contact us!