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When gold stops glittering. Corrosion mechanisms of René Lalique’s Art Nouveau jewellery

Abstract

Art Nouveau jewellery created by René Lalique is presently corroded. To identify the corrosion processes, Au-Ag-Cu alloys with compositions comparable to those used in the René Lalique’s jewellery were fabricated to be exposed to sulphide-containing environments. Using SEM-EDS, XRD, UV-Vis spectroscopy and ellipsometry, it was for the first time demon-strated that at the surface of tarnished Au alloys forms a corrosion film with a layer-by-layer structure. Considering the complex refractive indices of bulk Cu and Ag oxides and sulphides, a two-step corrosion mechanism was proposed. The formation of Cu-based compounds during the early corrosion stages is followed by the formation of Ag-based compounds. The thinness of the formed film, shown for one of the gold alloys to be of 80 nm, is due to a corrosion kinetics controlled by the presence of Au and by the formation of an Au-S self-assembled monolayer. The corrosion mechanism of gold alloys raises a new conservation challenge concerning the removal of nanometric layers.

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Publication details

The article was received on 23 Jan 2019, accepted on 05 Apr 2019 and first published on 05 Apr 2019


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C9JA00028C
Citation: J. Anal. At. Spectrom., 2019, Accepted Manuscript

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    When gold stops glittering. Corrosion mechanisms of René Lalique’s Art Nouveau jewellery

    I. Tissot, J. Correia, O. C. Monteiro, A. Barreiros and M. F. Guerra, J. Anal. At. Spectrom., 2019, Accepted Manuscript , DOI: 10.1039/C9JA00028C

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