Quiet for quite some time now to work on 'work', I've been asked recently if I will be returning to jewelry making and designing with pearls and to updating the blog with pearl and jewelry information any time soon.
The answer to these questions are, "Yes".
In response to the above, I've been asked a few times lately about pearls and the 'do's and don'ts' of designing with them and thought I'd reach back in the archives and give you one of the 'good ones'.
The original blog post is 'here', with even more Q and A's, but here's the answer to one of the most frequent questions I receive in regards to designing with pearls.
Q: Can I 'liver of sulfur' my finished wire work piece with my pearls, or do I have to oxidize my metal first and then create my piece?"
Great question! And, safety first here, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions on any solution(s) you are using whether it’s Liver of Sulfur, Silver Black, etc. and always wear protective eye gear.
Here’s my answer: You should not place your pearls or other porous gemstones (such as turquoise, etc.) or fragile beads (painted, AB coated crystals, etc.) into a solution of Liver of Sulfur.
Technically, you should oxidize your metal (silver, copper, etc.) prior to working with or assembling your piece.
Now, have I ever placed my finished piece along with my pearls into a solution of Liver of Sulfur – yes.
Should I have? No, not really.
Why did I do it? Because I was lazy (just stating the truth here folks!) and I wanted to see what would happen to my pearls.
(Granted, I didn’t do this with my ‘super-good’ pearls!!)
So, what happened?
Well, my pearls came out just fine after about a 30 second dip in some LOS. Absolutely perfect. Not a problem at all.
|Pearl, Turquoise and Sterling Silver Wire |
Wrapped Pendant "Freya"
Before and After an LOS Solution Dip
Although, another time, when I left my pearls in some LOS solution for a couple of minutes, one of them had a dullness to their nacre that wasn’t there prior to the LOS dip and one time it even turned a white pearl a rather dull, gray color.
It was hard to see right off the bat, but in certain lights you could tell it had lost its original white color and that something was a bit ‘off’.
|It's a bit hard to see here in this photo, but the pearl on the right has lost |
a bit of it's beautiful luster. If I had a before and after pic, it would
probably be a lot easier to tell the difference.
So, if you have poor quality pearls with extremely thin nacre or chipped nacre (think large hole pearls that have chips around their holes, etc.) you will want to LOS your metal prior to assembling your jewelry if at all possible. If not, then a quick ‘dunk’ might be okay – but then it might not. So, ‘dunk’ at your own risk,…or well, at your pearl’s risk!
A great alternative if you cannot oxidize your piece until it’s finished and you have stones in your design that you are afraid may be affected by a Liver of Sulfur solution is the eco-friendly, boiled egg method!
Yes, you can boil an egg, peel it, cut it in half and pop it in a seal-able plastic bag or plastic Tupperware type bowl, seal it up, and the sulfur in the egg yolks will eventually oxidize/blacken your piece without harming your stones/beads. Now, this does take time,…20 minutes to 2 hours or more, it just depends on the eggs. So, this is not for the impatient crafter, but it is a great alternative that doesn’t harm your beads/stones (at least none that I know of so far anyway).
Okay, so now you're ready to go and have a little 'blackening' fun with your silver and pearl designs, right?!
Go ahead - be brave and have fun!
Until Next Time,
Peace, Love and Playing with Pearls!!