The beauty of sterling silver increases with use, which induces a patina or soft sheen layer to form. Plated silver is silver that has been plated through the process of electrolysis over another metal. Tarnish occurs more quickly in damp and foggy weather, but is ultimately inevitable in any climate. Store in treated paper or cloth, or plastic film. How Silver is cleaned should be determined firstly by the value you have placed on it, whether monetary or sentimental, & secondly, the intricacy or depth of the pattern. Silver with deeply engraved designs that are enhanced by an oxide or French gray finish should be hand-polished with a specialized or recommended silver cream or polish.
Manual polish by hand induces a greater element of friction, which develops a patina layer which adds to its beauty. Ornamental silver accessories that have been lacquered must be washed in lukewarm water instead of hot water , as hot water could potentially cause damage or erosion of the lacquer. Polishing silver while wearing rubber gloves is a cardinal sin!. Don’t do it! Instead, choose plastic or cotton gloves.
Silver is vulnerable to certain reagents. Rubber is one material which can cause severe corrosion to silver. The damage can become so deeply etched that only a silversmith would be able to repair the damage, albeit with a severe wasteful loss of silver mass. Raised designs are beyond help, and will be lost permanently. Storage chests with rubber seals, rubber floor coverings and rubber bands are strict no-nos.
Other cardinal enemies of silver include table salt, olives, salad dressing, eggs, vinegar and fruit juices. Essentially anything which contains food acids. Serve even mildly acidic foods in china or glass containers rather than your precious silver tableware. Although flowers and fruitlook lovely in silverware, the carbonic acids produced during the decay process can etch the containers and cause serious damage. When using silver containers, use paper protective liners.
Baking Soda and Toothpaste: For cleaning with toothpaste, coat the silverwith toothpaste, then rinse it under warm water, work it into a foam, and rinse it off. For stubborn stains and intricate grooves unreachable by hand, use an old soft-bristled toothbrush.
For Baking Soda, mix a paste of baking soda and water. Rub, rinse, and polish dry with a non-abrasive cloth. To remove rust from silverware, sprinkle baking soda on a damp cloth and rub it on the silverware until corrosion is removed. Rinse, then dry well.
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The author is a New York-based veteran jeweler who specializes in both jewelry craft and fashion analysis. To find out more about Gothic jewelry, visit Gothic Jewelry