Friday, November 09, 2012

taking care of silver

Just recently, I was lucky enough to come into possession of an antique Rajasthan style waist belt. It's exactly the size I'd wanted, and the price was not ridiculous (when I say "ridiculous", I mean out of my reach - I know how expensive silver can be, but I also know what "overpriced" means). So I made a few some many sacrifices and purchased it.

When I finally received it, I was a bit disappointed and alarmed. It didn't look as silver as it was in the pictures. It looked yellowish, almost bronze-like. I thought I'd been duped. I could return it within seven days, but I decided to clean it, and some other silver jewelry, with baking soda and aluminum foil. The water residue of the belt was so ghastly and murky, but it was not enough. The belt still looked bronze and I was still worried.

But I was determined to clean it. And so after consulting The Great Interwebz, I ordered this polishing cloth. It came in the mail this morning and I just finished cleaning my belt.

Here are the photos.

The waist belt. 

The yellowy tarnish on the clasp was still there even after the baking soda and aluminum foil cleaning. 

Some rub using the polish cloth, and hello clean old silver. 

I'm comparing my contemporary Indian sterling silver bracelet with the antique waist belt, still uncleaned.

The bracelet, compared with the back of the belt's clasps that has been rubbed with the polish cloth. 

A comparison of the bracelet, a part of the belt's been cleaned, and the part that hasn't.

And after 100 minutes of rubbing and scrubbing and buffing (I was watching Lord of the Rings: Return of the King while doing this), look, look, look: it's silver. It's shiny, shiny silver. 

The belt and the dirty, dirty polishing cloth. 

Now it's time to store it so it won't tarnish in a short while. I bought these little zip lock bags

And anti-tarnish paper tabs. These work like silica gel. 

And they're all protected inside the zip lock bags. I place the jewelry that I wear often in a separate bag. 

Also, as a double (or is it triple?) protection, I place them inside this bag that's made of cloth that has R-22 to prevent tarnish. 

One last note, I also ordered  3M Tarni-Shield polish, but it will arrive next Monday and I just couldn't wait to clean the belt. There are still some deep parts that need cleaning and the crevices too deep to reach. I'll clean it again using the Tarni-Shield and old tooth brush. Perhaps it's wiser to clean it first using the Tarni-Shield (or whatever chemical polish) - if your jewelry piece has tarnished too much, so that it will make the job of rubbing and buffing a lot easier. 

All of these might seem excessive and too much, but consider this: you've spent hundreds if not thousands of dollars collecting silver or gold jewelry. I always see precious metals and stones as investments - their value most likely increases over time, so why not take good care of them? God forbid one day we have to part with them, but if the time comes, and they've been well taken care of, then they will sell for a price as beautiful as the jewelry themselves. 

Make time to clean your jewelry, at least wipe the sweat and oil off your accessories when you take them off and store them in the anti-tarnish bag or storage. 

Addendum: The Tarni-Shield has arrived and I used it to clean the belt with an old tooth brush to reach for the deep parts. It worked just fine, although I prefer cleaning my silver jewelry using polishing cloth.

The lower buckle was cleaned using Tarni-Shield and tooth brush and the upper buckle wasn't.

Also, I'm now going to wrap my silver pieces individually in acid-free white tissue paper and then store them in the zip lock bags and R-22 bags.

I'll do the same to my Assuits and I'll share how that turn out later. 


Foodycat said...

In Australia I also used to get a product called Goddard's silver dip - it was a liquid, so anything with really intricate or deep patterns you could dunk in it. It's advised that you use the polishing cloth after dipping/cleaning, because that leaves the anti-tarnish residue on your pieces.

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