possesses, it's working
qualities similar to gold but can achieve the most brilliant
polish of any metal. To make it durable for jewelry, however,
pure silver (999 fineness) is often alloyed with small quantities
of copper. In many countries, Sterling Silver (92.5% silver,
7.5% copper) is the standard for Jewelry and has been since
the 14th century. The copper toughens
the silver and makes it possible to use silver 925 for decorative
and fashionable jewelry.
the ages, silver jewelry has been associated
with magical powers; believed to promote healing, bring
good luck and for warding off evil spirits to the wearer.
While these beliefs are not part of mainstream thinking
today, some people still hold them true.
has always been held in high esteem and displayed as a status
symbol since it was mined approx. 4,000 BC in Asia Minor.
In the earliest Egyptian records, it was considered more
precious than gold. Interestingly, with all of silver's
magical power, owning silver at various times was restricted,
especially if it was in the form of jewelry. Throughout
history, wearing silver jewelry was often a social privilege
- not a right - reserved for upper classes.
the 18th century, things began to change in Europe and a
new fashion fad surfaced: silver buckles appeared on shoes
where laces had always been. Although today we generally
consider shoe buckles to be functional items, back in the
1700's, they were a form of jewelry.
to care for your silver
is tarnished by sulfur-containing materials, particularly
hydrogen sulfide (H2S). The most common tarnish-causing
elements are wool, felt, food (eggs, onions), fossil fuels,
rubber bands, latex gloves, carpet padding, and certain
paints. Tarnish is accelerated in a humid environment. Oily
salts from our fingers may, if not removed, show up as corrosion
patterns that may have to be professionally removed. If
there is no tarnish present on your silver, use a phosphate-free
detergent to clean it after use. Silver that is used, then
gently washed and dried immediately, will require seldom
use polishes that have dried-up; the abrasive particles
are now much too concentrated and will harm your silver.
may have noticed after cleaning your silver, that a purplish
stain remained. This stain, or oxidized copper, is called
firestain, and can be found on many colonial through nineteenth
century pieces. It is not generally seen on pieces that
have been produced by the large silver companies after the
1800s, though, many one-man silversmithing shops still use
this technique. This depletion process leaves the object
with a pure silver surface which is more resistant to tarnishing.
The stain develops in sterling and coin silver when oxygen
penetrates the outer surface of the object during brazing,
oxidizing the copper content. Fine silver is left on the
surface when acid chemically removes the oxidized copper,
though, copper may be oxidized below the surface. These
pieces will show this stain after many years of polishing.
Do not mistake this stain for tarnish! Attempting to remove
it will only damage your prized piece.
as a Silver Polish
should NEVER be used as a silver polish. Some toothpastes
contain baking soda or other ingredients which are much
too abrasive; even trace amounts may cause serious damage.
Only use polishes that are specifically formulated to remove
tarnish from silver.
dips work by dissolving the tarnish on an object at an accelerated
rate. Dips are used by silver restorers when heavy, black
tarnish cannot be removed with liquid or paste polishes.
Chemical dips are wiped over the object with a cellulose
sponge or cotton ball to avoid over cleaning, for submerging
the entire piece for long periods will cause pitting of
the object's surface and remove factory-applied patinas.
This surface will act like a sponge and more readily absorb
tarnish-producing gases and moisture. The object may then
require professional polishing to restore the original finish.
Wax From Candle Holders
you become frustrated when trying to remove wax from your
weighted candle holders? Do you go pawing into your flatware
drawer to find just the right size knife to dig out the
wax? Do you run the piece under warm water, only to create
a big mess? Well, here's a simple, non-invasive technique:
use your hair dryer (not a heat gun). Be careful not to
get the object too hot especially if itís lacquered. Warm
the candle cup or other area that has dripped wax. Lightly
touch the area with your finger to make sure it's not too
hot, then wipe the area or wrap a paper towel around your
finger and wipe out the candle cup. Always support the cup
from underneath with your hand. If the opening is too small
for your finger, gently stuff (don't force) the paper towel
into the cup and twist. Cotton swabs also work very well,
especially on Hanukkah lamps with very small candle cups.
Use as much fresh paper towel or as many cotton swabs as
needed, otherwise, you will repeatedly reapply the wax you're
removing. If residue remains use a non-abrasive silver polish
and cotton ball or cotton towel to remove it.
candle holders can be put in your freezer. Upon removing
them, use your fingernail (not a knife) and delicately chip
off the wax.
dripless candles whenever possible and remove any wax residue
after every use. Using these techniques will greatly reduce
You just purchased a vase with one of those labels that
leaves so much a sticky residue it could be used to wrap
a package! Hereís a removal technique: use a hair dryer
to soften the label adhesive. The label should then come
off cleanly with its adhesive backing. If there is a sticky
residue left, use some
isopropyl alcohol. Do this in a well ventilated area and
with nitrile gloves, then wipe away the residue. There may
be discoloration in the silver that was created by the adhesive
which can be removed with silver polish.