What is Jewelry Patina?
Patina on jewelry is a darkening on the surface of metal that occurs over time…the more time, generally the richer the patina.
It is the result of a natural oxidation process. Metals susceptible to patina formation usually contain some copper or iron.
The Array of Patina Colors Might Surprise You.
Patina can appear in a wide variety of colors, including red, brown, black, grey, blue, orange, purple, pink, beige and green. Here is are a few examples of some of the patina color out there, courtesy of Bronzeworks Precious Metal in Australia:
Oh Shiny! Why Not Remove Patina?
Surprisingly, patina acts as a protective layer, shielding the metal below against exposure and corrosion.
Patina is also intriguingly beautiful and if you remove it, it is gone forever. It is prized by collectors and those who love old jewelry as testimony to years of loving wear and to unknown experiences that went before.
Many manufacturers today try to duplicate the look patina on new jewelry. Even though many of these pieces are very pretty, it is just not the same as the real thing.
Patina is a gift of time…and only the passage of time can create it.
Patina Seems to Say “Leave Me Alone!”
At Tribal Muse we never remove patina, since to remove it would change not only the value, but also the character of a piece. Some of our items have been rub-polished to bring out their luster, without altering the presence of patination.
Unlike tarnish, patina is embedded into the upper layers of the metal itself, darkening the color through multiple molecular layers without destroying them. To eliminate all of the patina is a challenge, and limits the attraction of old pieces.
Usually, only a chemical bath can completely remove patina to result in a high-polish, if at all. Chemical treatments are not good for any jewelry, and are never recommended regardless of the age of a piece. It can make jewelry brittle and susceptible to other forms of deterioration down the road.
Although you might find some high-polish old jewelry on our website, the acid-cleaning occurred at the location of origin before arriving at Tribal Muse.
Here are a few images of our high-polish vintage jewelry:
High-Polish Chemically Cleaned Jewelry is still beautiful; it just has a different look.
Photographing Patina is a Challenge.
True patina often does not photograph well because of its natural sheen. In images, jewelry pieces with significant patina may appear lighter than they are to the naked eye. That is why it is a good idea to read the full descriptions whenever and where ever you buy old or vintage Tribal Jewelry to avoid patina surprises.
What’s What with Patina Identification?
At Tribal Muse, we identify the level of age patinas as follows:
Mild = Visible patina, may be rub-polished
Warm = Moderate dark patina, with a more noticeable darkening of the metal
Rich = Very dark patina, with heavy darkening of metal. May include verdigris
Here’s Looking at You, Patina.
Below are some photos of what the different patinas look like on some of the jewelry at Tribal Muse. They are arranged by increasing level of patination, including Mild, Warm, and Rich.
- Warm Patina
If you love old and vintage things, once you see a piece of jewelry with genuine patina, it is hard to forget it. You might even be overcome with an inexplicable desire to touch it, hold it, and wonder at who wore it.
There is a definite attraction that pulls people to this jewelry with a deep sense of pleasure and appreciation. Perhaps that is why so much new jewelry has simulated patina applied. It still looks good, but it is not the same as the real thing.
Some Jewelry with Applied Patina:
That is not to say anything against high-polish jewelry or jewelry with a painted patina. Many of these pieces are truly beautiful, and often more in keeping with fashion industry trends.
Regardless of choice, both old and new patinated jewelry is a welcome addition to any accessory wardrobe (although I must confess to a personal preference…I bet you can guess which one!)
You and Patina?
What kind of Patina Jewelry do you have – or would you like to have?
Tell us in the Comments section, we’d love to know what you think.
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