Bling Bling: How to Care for Your Antique Silver


You may think that polishing silver is a chore best suited for the servants of a British period drama. You may think you should only bother with polishing Grandma’s serving platter just before using it. You may buy silver antiques with good intentions but are lost as to how to care for it. Whatever the excuse, if you have silver, it’s in your best interest to maintain it and our tricks of the trade will show you how easy it can be.

Rule #1. Tardiness = Tarnish

polishing silver Image: Table bling. Photo Credit: The Telegraph

Contrary to what you may have heard, silver is actually intended for everyday use and not just for special occasions. If you stay a step ahead of the tarnish by regularly wiping down and cleaning your silver pieces, they will be easy to maintain. Tarnish mostly builds up from lack of maintenance. Silverware, even when used every day, will tarnish faster than other utensils due to its regular reaction to chemicals in food. A quick rub with silver cream, such as Goddard’s or Twinkle, followed by a fast rinse will do the trick. Don’t leave your silver to soak for too long because the minerals in water can hurt the quality. And never put your silver in the dishwasher!

Rule #2. Soft Cloth Is Your Friend

Any silver polishing, whether light or heavy-duty, should be done with a soft cotton microcloth. A rough brush or rag could scratch the surface and cause unnecessary abrasions. Avoid toothbrushes as well unless they are the softest bristles available. Cotton swabs will work in a pinch to reach those tiny areas.

Rule #3. Use the Good Stuff

silver danish forks Image: Set of Twelve Danish Silver Forks and Spoons, Copenhagen, available on Lofty

The silver polisher you use is very important to the lasting quality of your silver. Avoid any harsh chemicals and use top-of-the-line products to ensure your silver keeps its shine and its value. Brands such as Weiman, Twinkle, and Goddard’s are excellent choices.

Rule #4. DON’T “Go Big or Go Home”

silver coffee set Image: American Silver Three-Piece Coffee Service with Matching Silver Tray by Tiffany & Co, available on Lofty

Infomercial quick fixes can be just that. Don’t get seduced by the easy way out and try drip formulas that remove tarnish rapidly and dramatically without a little elbow grease. Those solutions contain harsh chemicals that may remove the deepest of tarnishes, but they also remove some of the luster of the silver and can actually weaken the object.

Rule #5. Store It Properly

monet Image: Keep your silver in a dry cupboard. Photo Credit: Kimberly Packard

Don’t let your efforts go to waste. After cleaning silver, be sure to store it properly. You can place individual pieces in plastic ziplock bags, but do not wrap them in plastic wrap with rubber bands. You can also invest in tarnish-resistant cloth – a cotton treated with zinc, often a flannel – such as Pacific Silvercloth. Once the pieces are wrapped, they should be placed in dry cupboards away from moisture.

You can visit Lofty’s collection of decorative silver pieces here.

SEE ALSO: How to Determine the Condition of Silver Like an Expert