Silver Care & Cleaning Tips

Helpful How To

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The craftsmen in our workshop make all our Silver Jewellery and other silver items using 925 Sterling Silver, this is hallmark quality solid silver of 92.5% purity. The other 7.5% is made up of alloys which are added to make the silver harder as pure silver is too soft to work with and will not last.

The final stage in the process is to polish the silver to a brilliant shine using specialist tools, mops and polishing cloths. These combine to give a high finish only found on handmade silver, different from chrome or stainless steel in that it is softer and not as reflective.

With proper care, your silver will stay as beautiful as the day you receive it and items such as candleholders and wine coasters will become heirlooms that will be enjoyed by generations of your family.

Silver Patination

Over time, tableware, giftware and jewellery made from silver will acquire small surface scratches especially when coming into contact with other silver or a harder material. However, the patina created by wear and small marks will add to the beauty of the item, as light will be reflected in different directions and add to its lustre. In fact this process begins almost immediately, even contact with a duster or tissue paper will start the patination – defined as, ‘the sheen on any surface, produced by age and use’. It is nothing to worry about and should be embraced.

Caring for Silver

It is important that you take special care when wearing your silver jewellery; avoid wearing it in when working in situations where it may get damaged easily such as whilst cleaning, exercising or playing sports. Never wear silver while swimming as chlorine will react with the silver and cause it to tarnish.

Jewellery should be the last thing you put on and the first thing to come off, this will prevent it from coming into contact with freshly applied perfumes, make-up, deodorants and cleaning products, all of which contain chemicals that can accelerate the tarnishing process.

Occasionally silver jewellery can become tarnished more quickly than normal due to a pH imbalance in the skin caused by medication, alcohol or some types of food that can cause a reaction with the silver. If this happens, it is best to clean the silver with a polish or polishing cloth and usually the condition will go away very soon with the jewellery returning to normal next time it is worn.

Silver that is frequently used rarely develops tarnish problems, but it is wise to wash your silver promptly after use in warm water with a gentle, phosphate-free soap and then rinse it in warm water. Don’t use rubber gloves when washing silver, as rubber can corrode it. After washing dry promptly with a soft cloth. Don’t be tempted to wash your silver in a dishwasher and don’t dry silver with tissues or a paper towel, as these will scratch the surface.

Storing Your Silver

We recommend that when you are not wearing or using your silver, that you keep the item in a fabric bag. This will prevent it being exposed to air and humidity that can cause tarnish and from knocking against other items of jewellery and becoming damaged.  The best way to keep silver tarnish-free is by enjoying wearing or using it.

Cleaning Silver

If your silver does develop some tarnish, first of all try washing it as described above.

If the tarnish is light, try using a jewellers rouge cloth to clean your silver, these have an extremely fine polishing compound in them that can also remove small surface scratches.  You can also polish silver chains by gently drawing them through the cloth.

If the tarnish is heavy, you will need to use a polishing cream. Sometimes removing all the tarnish can make silver look lifeless, so always follow the instructions, using the minimum amount of polish and taking care to rub the silver gently with a soft cloth.

While you won’t rub out the engraved personalisation on an item of silver, over polishing can make the silver look flat.

Fritz Stotz painting, women polishing and cleaning household silver.

An early 20th-century painting by Fritz Stotz depicting women polishing and cleaning household silver.

You can also remove tarnish by using a proprietary cleaning cloth, glove or mitt. Whether you use jewellers rouge, a polish or a cloth, don’t rub in a circular motion.

Silver chains, cufflinks and earrings can occasionally be cleaned with a silver dip, but don’t immerse them for too long as like over polishing, the result can be a lifeless item of silver.  For the same reason, avoid ‘miracle’ silver cleaning products.

Silver and Salt

Silver and salt are not the best of friends and corrosion will occur if salt is left in contact with a silver product such as a salt mill for prolonged periods. Our salt mills are lined with wood or acrylic to prevent problems, however please ensure that salt is wiped from the exterior of mills after use.

Silver Egg Cups & Spoons

Silver christening egg cups and spoons are popular gifts, but if you dip a silver spoon into an egg yolk, or drip yolk onto an egg cup, they will tarnish almost immediately. So wash your egg cup and spoon immediately after use.

Removing Wax From Candle Holders

It is preferable to use dripless candles, but even these will drip if they are exposed to a draft or if the wick is allowed to become too long so that the flame becomes over-sized.

You can dip the top of the candle holder in a bowl of warm water with a phosphate-free soap and then rinse it in warm water, taking care not to wet the green baize base.

If this fails try the gentle heat of a hair dryer to melt the wax, taking care not to make the silver so hot that you burn yourself.  Wipe the melted wax with a cotton cloth and use a rouge cloth and polishing cloth to complete the clean.

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