Etching Fine Silver (.999)
by Betsy Moore-Galinsky
Hi Stacy...I just stumbled upon your site, and I love it! I mostly work with fine silver sheet and wire. I love that I don't need to polish it as much as sterling.
I wanted to know how FS would take to etching with ferric chloride. Have you had any experince with that?
Ferric Chloride will etch copper and copper alloys such as brass, bronze and nickle silver, but it has no effect on silver.
For etching silver, a common chemical used is Ferric Nitrate which is available in crystal form and mixed about 50/50 with distilled water. Etch in the same way you would when etching copper with Ferric Chloride. You can also use a rather nasty substance - Nitric Acid - to etch silver. This you also dilute with distilled water for better control of the etch. If you're going to attempt using Nitric Acid, please follow the manufacturers directions for safety carefully.
A method used by many folks to get an "etched" look on silver, is to etch a brass plate that you'll use as a pattern. Lay a sheet of silver over the brass plate and run through a rolling mill to create a Roller Print pattern on the silver. This method works really well and lets you avoid the chemicals used for silver etching.