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Silver Care

Properly looked after, your silver gift will last for years and, over time, as you polish and clean the silver, it will build up that beautiful antique patina that makes old silver so attractive.

The most common action that detracts from silver is "Tarnish". This causes a discolouration of the metal and will get increasingly worse over time. The best advice is to clean a little and often to avoid the tarnish getting too heavy. Interestingly items of silver jewellery, like pendants, seldom build up a tarnish if they are worn because the constant movement against clothes and skin.

Tarnish is most commonly caused when the silver reacts with hydrogen sulfide in the air. A dull film forms on the surface making it appear grey and over time this darkens until the surface is almost entirely black. Unlike rust, tarnish only forms on the upper surface and doesn't continue to attack the metal.

Other substances that can cause discolouration of silver are foods (especially acidic or salty foods), salt itself, oil and moisture from handling, latex objects such as rubber bands and gloves, some wools and wool-based products, plus some cosmetics, hair products, perfumes and household cleaning materials.

One of the best bits of advice is to clean a little and often. Remove any marks or spills when they happen - the problem is only exaserbated if left. Cleaning with a non-abrasive silver cloth is recommended although a soft cloth with a phosphate-free detergent can be used. Regular cleaning and polishing in this way will avoid tarnish starting. Some silver polishes can be abrasive, so use sparingly and avoid abrasive household cloths and sponges.

If there is tarnish and the item is small enough, a silver dip can be used. But don't leave it in the liquid too long as you will damage the surface ... and always read the instructions before use.

Another way to avoid silver tarnish is to store your silver correctly - first wrap it in soft acid-free or anti-tarnish tissue and then seal it in a polythene bag or box (do not use newspaper, rubber bands or clingfilm).

Tips:

  • Clean a little and often
  • Use a hairdryer to melt wax off candlesticks ... be careful not to burn yourself on the hot metal.
  • Never use dried up or old polishing materials. They can be abrasive and scratch the surface
  • Don't put your silver in the dishwasher!
  • Don't use silver dip on jewellery with gemstones!
  • Don't wrap in newspaper