Friday, April 18, 2008

Patina and Cleaning Antique Silver

An example of good patination on a repousse tea caddy By S Kirk.

Patina is really a myriad of fine scratches overlapping to form a fine textured surface. This surface or finish is really most desirable on an old piece of silver because it gives the silver the soft color that collectors seek.
Never use petroleum based polishes on your good silver. They are usually harsh and scar the metal surface. Unless you have a lifetime to wait to restore patina through general use and exposure you should try not to have anything professionally cleaned. Exceptions to this would be if a good silversmith wants to restore your silver and they have to use these methods to put a finish on a piece after working on it.
A good brand of silver polish in the form of foam or cream would be the best for cleaning antique silver. It would remove the least silver and these polishes have a silicone or wax to form a seal of protection from the atmosphere. These work best with hot water. The silver should always be left out to air dry before storing.