Metal Patination Techniques for Jewelers and Metalsmiths

DJG member Jill Newbrook reviews a new book on colouring metals: ‘Metal Patination Techniques for Jewelers and Metalsmiths’, by Matthew Runfola; Pub: Thames and Hudson, £28.00

“Patina” is a new publication in the ever expanding series of jewellery books. This is aimed at anyone working in metals: jewellers, metalsmiths, sculptors and artisans, and will appeal to all skill levels.

Jill Newbrook 146

This is a very comprehensive look at the surface colouration of metals. There are chapters covering the theory of colouration, the tools and equipment needed, the comparison of different methods and a very in depth section on how to. This covers surface preparation, masking, layering, burnishing etc, and the application of various chemicals, through immersion, brushing, spraying, and fuming. There is also a very comprehensive section on the different metals, with samples, recipes, and examples of finished work throughout, ending with formulas and a list of suppliers. Although this seems to be aimed primarily at the American market, the recipe ingredients and proprietary formulas should be fairly easy to get hold of in the UK.

Jill Newbrook 146

This pair of earrings of mine appears in the section on sterling silver. The silver has been etched with a pattern then coloured with a black oxidisation liquid over the whole piece, and the surface then rubbed back to reveal the silver, leaving the oxidation in the etched portions to define the pattern. I use this fairly simple colourisation technique on a lot of my work and it can be applied to many pieces and produce a variety of finishes within the confines of a limited palette, as is shown on these pieces below which are either being worked on or in their finished state.


I was fascinated to learn that there are many other colours that can be applied to silver, ranging from browns, oranges, reds, to blue, violet, or green.

This book will certainly open up many exciting possibilities for experimenting with the technique of colouring metals.

As the author says in his introduction, “Happy patinating to you all!”

Jill’s jewellery is on show (and for sale) in the Barbican Centre, London, now until 1st June.

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