Clean­ing and tar­nish re­moval

Consumer Voice - - Hallmarkin­g Of Silver -

Tar­nish is first vis­i­ble on sil­ver as a yel­low­ish cast that over time deep­ens to brown and even­tu­ally be­comes a very dark and iri­des­cent pur­ple/black. Tar­nish is quite easy to re­move in its early stages and very dif­fi­cult to re­move once it has reached the black stage; thus, fre­quent light clean­ings are safer for your sil­ver and less time-con­sum­ing for you than wait­ing un­til sil­ver is very tar­nished be­fore clean­ing. Com­mer­cial soaps that con­tain phos­phate can leave a brown stain on sil­ver, so choose a mild, phos­phate-free de­ter­gent. Do not im­merse pieces with wooden and ivory at­tach­ments such as han­dles or finials, as wa­ter will harm th­ese ma­te­ri­als. Sil­ver plate should not be im­mersed for any length of time, as the base metal will cor­rode through the plat­ing. Af­ter wash­ing, dry and buff sil­ver with a soft, clean cloth. Be sure to clean your sil­ver in this way just be­fore pol­ish­ing, to re­move any gritty or greasy dust and dirt from the sur­face. Don’t use rub­ber gloves when you wash or pol­ish sil­ver – they emit sul­phurs! Re­moval of tar­nish gen­er­ally in­volves the use of an abra­sive and so it is re­ferred to as pol­ish­ing. Since sil­ver is softer than many other met­als, it is of ut­most im­por­tance that the ap­pro­pri­ate abra­sive be used – a prod­uct for­mu­lated for clean­ing cop­per or brass would be much too strong for sil­ver, and leave dis­fig­ur­ing scratches. For sil­ver that is only lightly tar­nished, a pol­ish­ing cloth is gen­tlest as it does not con­tain a high con­cen­tra­tion of abra­sives. Once sil­ver has been cleaned of tar­nish, a pol­ish­ing cloth can be used on a regular ba­sis to main­tain a shiny ap­pear­ance. What­ever prod­uct you choose for your sil­ver, don’t make the mis­take of try­ing to re­move all tar­nish; in dec­o­ra­tive ar­eas it is meant to en­hance tex­ture and re­lief, and con­trib­utes to the aes­thetic ap­pear­ance of the piece. Your sil­ver will con­tinue to give you plea­sure if you take the proper steps to main­tain it by pre­vent­ing tar­nish as much as pos­si­ble, and us­ing the ap­pro­pri­ate pol­ish when tar­nish re­moval is re­quired.

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