Liver of sulfur (potassium sulfide or sulfurated potash) is a simple and relatively safe chemical patina for patinating a variety of common nonferrous jewelry-making metals. It works well on sterling silver, fine silver, shibuichi, and copper; some results on brass and nickel; no effect on gold or aluminum. It’s easy to use, and will create a range of colors to give depth and contrast to your pieces.
Liver of sulfur is commercially available in several forms. Rocklike chunks (Photo 1, right) is the most common form. Large chunks need to be broken into smaller, pea-sized pieces before using. Solid liver of sulfur is susceptible to moisture and light; keep it dry and the container tightly sealed. Liquid liver of sulfur (Photo 1, left) is good if you use a lot of it; it’s convenient to skip the dissolving stage, but the liquid has a relatively short shelf life, and deteriorates quickly. Gel (Photo 2) is easy to use and is stabilized, so it has the longest shelf life of all the forms.