Monday, February 2, 2009

Jewelry as it Ages- What is a Patina?

The term patina is used to describe jewelry which has had color changes after it has been exposed to oxygen. This change is gradual with time, and can often be used to date items. People often associate the term patina with sterling silver jewelry, but many other metals can be affected as well as silver.

Should you remove the patina? It depends. Many collectors like the aged look that patina gives a piece and they like to have this patina intact. So, if the piece is for resale, it is best to leave the patina so that the owner can decide whether to polish the piece or not.

Other people like to have that newly purchased, polished look, so they will remove the patina with various methods of cleaning. It is often hard to remove the patina that has built up over time. Patina does not damage an item. It is just a byproduct of time and exposure to the elements.

The term patina should not be confused with verdigris or green gunk, which is a more damaging condition. Please see my website Vintage Jewelry Lane for an article on how to remove verdigris from jewelry.

The photos below show several articles which have a patina. I've included sterling, gold and copper pieces to give comparisions in how the items look as they age. The last photo shows what verdigris looks like.


To polish or not? The choice is yours, except in the last case, where restoration is necessary.

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