In this article we give our readers some simple tips on cleaning antique silver. If you should have any comments or concerns regarding the care of your silver then please do not hesitate to contact us.
First and foremost, try not to over polish your silver. Every time you polish your silver a tiny amount of silver is removed, over time this can add up and cause premature wearing. It is better to regularly lightly clean or dust your antique silver with a soft cloth or gently wash and dry with a clean soft leather, then dry with a soft cotton cloth. Paul de Lamerie once stated that the only time silver should be polished is just before it is handed over to the client.
If the antique silver piece is tarnished then a proprietary brand of silver polish is recommended taking care to place a piece of tape over the hallmarks to prevent rubbed hallmarks (often seen on old pieces). We have seen some beautiful pieces of antique silver over the years that were probably created by top silversmiths, however sometimes the hallmarks were so badly rubbed that it was just impossible to tell.
Example of a good hallmark (top) and a rubbed hallmark (bottom)
If an item of antique silver is used regularly it will reduce the tarnishing and the piece will obtain a fine patina. If you are regularly using canteens of cutlery we would suggest that you rotate pieces not used so that the all pieces obtain the same look. We also recommend that you wash flatware after use, rinse well and dry again with a soft leather then with a soft cotton cloth. Please take special care with corrosive substances, any piece that comes into contact with salt should be cleaned immediately as it will corrode if left for any period of time. Likewise, contact with stainless steel is not good for your silver, try to keep them apart if possible.
We do not recommend that silver pieces are washed in a dishwasher; they may be OK but why risk something as precious as silver inside a dishwasher that uses salt, it’s always better to wash by hand.