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Silver only tarnishes if left in an atmosphere where sulphur is present (sourced from coal, oil or gas). Generally this is not a rapid process and if care is taken to protect silver from pollution, tarnish should not be a major problem. Tarnish does not harm silver and potential damage from scratches or dents should be your principle concern.


- Use a commercially available silver polish applying sparingly using a soft cloth, do not use abrasive materials such as scouring pads.

- Do not use polishes intended for brass or copper as these generally contain abrasives.

- Always remove all residual traces of polish (using a pointed cotton bud) as it can clog intricate or highly decorative areas.

- Tooth brushes, as cleaning tools are not recommended.

- Never soak silver or clean in a dishwasher. If you have to wash do it quickly in warm not hot water with a minimal amount of washing up liquid.

- Do not use strong detergents.

- To remove wax from silver candlesticks, leave in a warm room overnight to soften wax, then remove using a blunted plastic cocktail stick.

- When cleaning and polishing, take care to avoid the hallmarks, or cover them with masking tape as once the hallmarks are worn away the piece can be almost worthless.


- Should only be undertaken by a suitably qualified conservator or restorer.


- Best presented in suitable display cabinets.

- Silver is valuable, generally of small size and easily stolen. Suitable security is therefore also strongly recommended.

- Salt can corrode silver so your antique salt cellar should always be glass lined. If not always remove the salt after use.

- Do not worry if your silver acquires a deep greyish hue, this is the 'patina' of age and can add value.


- Best handled with cotton gloves or preferably an anti-tarnish cloth to protect from scratching.

- Grease from fingers can induce tarnish.


- Store using a soft cloth to prevent scratching.

- When storing for a long period, wrap items in acid-free tissue, larger pieces are then best wrapped in felt or cloth bags, tied at the top. Plastic bags are not advisable as these cause condensation.

- Do not use rubber bands to hold cutlery together as a reaction with the silver will leave stubborn marks.


LAPADA - RICS Antiques and Fine Arts Faculty

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