Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Polishing and storing Silver

Hi there-
Here are a couple tips about jewelry care that I hope you find helpful! feel free to pass it along...

Polishing Silver:

is something that anyone who was born after the 1970's isn't usually familiar with. (Before then, we all had to polish our mother's silver tableware when getting ready for holiday meals) The fact is, Silver tarnishes. It's because there is a small amount of copper in the alloy- once it is exposed to humidity and air it darkens ("oxidizes") so, unless it is kept in a special container with anti tarnish chemicals, it will tarnish.
(I've added a few tips on silver storage below)

To care for your silver all summer I recommend keeping it clean by either investing in a ($5) polishing cloth aka rouge cloth, or investing in a tube or jar of old fashioned silver polish. 
Silver can tarnish from sweat, so use a bit of silver polish when you see it darkening- you can buy it at any hardware store. There are many types of silver polish- the more gentle the better-
IMPORTANT: I usually recommend to stay away from liquid "dipping" polishes, which are very aggressive and actually strip a fine layer of metal from your piece. (this is especially disheartening when you lose darkened details of older pieces, or pieces that are meant to have black details, so be careful to avoid those stripping products)
However, if you have a piece that just needs to be brightened (and it doesn't have any dark details)
You can try the easy DIY silver brightening method I describe in another blog post Here: http://mbzmetalsmith.blogspot.com/2014/11/tarnish-be-gone.html

 Silver Storage:
*Never wrap your silver jewelry in newspapers or plastic as these will cause your jewelry to tarnish severely.
*Add rubber bands to the list of material that should not be used to pack silver jewelry.
*Wrap each jewel in anti-tarnish tissue (available at most jewelry stores) and then seal them in polyethylene bags. (This is one way in which tarnishing can be minimized.)
*Tarnish absorbing cloths are also available and can be used in the same way.
*Anti-tarnish strips work in a slightly different way. These strips absorb tarnish producing gases and are made from paper that contains activated charcoal. They do not emit fumes or vapours but absorb the gases that cause silver to tarnish.
*even putting a couple sticks of regular white chalk (from the chalkboard) in your jewelry storage will help regulate the humidity and keep your tarnish under control.
*Finally, Silica Gel granules are man made and absorb moisture from the air. High humidity is one of the causes of silver tarnish and these granules that contain numerous tiny crevices 'suck' excess moisture from the air. They are used in medicine containers too and have been around for many decades.

The important thing to note about these materials is that they have a life span during which they will prove effective. Read instructions when using them and ensure that they are changed as and when recommended. Silica Gel granules can be made to change color when they are fully 'soaked' with moisture and become inactive. 

******************************************************************************** a lot of info! But if you are still interested, here's another link about the care of silver: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conservation_and_restoration_of_silver_objects

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Tarnish be gone!

Aw, what happened to your jewelry box? you turn your head for one moment
and that bright shine is looking somewhat...blah...

Is your silver jewelry and silver ware looking drab/dull and tarnished?
It Happens to the best of us!
so, if you want to do something about it,
in a fast, fun and interesting way
Here's how to brighten up your silver jewelry:
it's easy to do, using simple easy to find ingredients that you already have at home!

you will need:
  • water
  • salt
  • an aluminum plate (you can substitute aluminum foil)
  • water softener powder (you can substitute baking soda).

1. Take an aluminum plate (or a regular plate covered with a piece of foil).
2. Add 1 tablespoon of salt and 1 tablespoon of water softener powder (or baking soda).
3. Then pour some hot (not boiling) water onto the plate.
4. Stir to dissolve
5. dunk your silver in the solution.

How long do you need to keep your silver in the solution?It really depends on the condition of your piece- The results may be immediate, or they may take a few minutes. On very tarnished items, this cleaning method will not make your jewelry perfectly clean and shiny.  (that's when you resort to polishing compound pastes and your polishing cloth)

Polishing cloths
You can do most maintenance polishing with a polishing cloth (found at many stores) Polishing cloths are an inexpensive part of your jewelry care- and they last forever! (well, it seems that way) They last a long long time (until the fabric wears down).*one note- NEVER wash a polishing cloth- it works well because it is impregnated with polishing compounds. Once the cloth is washed, the magic is lost.

We do not recommend this cleaning method for jewelry that has precious or semi-precious stones.
Also, Please be aware that this method is not good for antiqued (oxidized) silver, as cleaning will remove the antiqued finish on the silver along with the tarnish, which would really be a bummer.

OK- that's about it- I just wanted to give you a fun science experiment to play with- and help you get the best shine for your dime
ciao for now- M


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