Its unique properties aside, silver is a very malleable and chemically active metal. For this reason, all items made of silver are prone to discoloration and the loss of their original luster. This chemical/physical process is absolutely normal and does not indicate the presence of some defect or lack of quality.
Silver tarnishing is merely sulfurous silver that has turned in color from pale yellow to black. Tarnishing may be caused by any of the following events:
1. The silver item came into contact with hydrogen sulfide or other sulfurous compounds. Sulfur is present in the following environments: a. Foodstuffs (including onion, garlic, horseradish, asparagus, mustard, beans, egg yolks); b. The atmosphere of industrialized cities (especially those located near petroleum refineries); c. Various types of make-up (especially skin ointments); d. Chemical agents used in the development of photographic film; e. Therapeutic (or medicinal) mud; f. Packaging materials (including cardboard, rubber and viscose silk)
2. The silver was exposed to an atmosphere enriched with ozone.
3. The silver came into contact with acidic foodstuffs including some fruit juices and salad dressings.
4. The silver came into contact with iodine or compounds that contain iodine.
5. The silver came into contact with acetone, automobile fuel or lubrication oils.
6. The silver was stored in a humid or poorly ventilated environment.
When cleaning silver tableware, try to avoid any mechanical deformation of utensils (bends, fractures, etc.). This may damage the protective/decorative coating, causing it to peel off of the silver surface. When storing silverware, try to prevent individual items from coming into contact, as this may cause scratches. We recommend the use of unbleached (or parchment) paper as interlays between items. Furthermore, an investment should be made in a specially designed wooden case-'chest' with compartments for each individual item. Silverware should always be washed immediately after every use. Warm soapy water should suffice, though you may want to add sodium bicarbonate (2 dry oz of baking soda per 1 quart of water). Once clean, rinse the item(s) in cool water and pat dry with a soft towel. Refrain from using a dishwasher if your silverware contains enamel or other decorative finishing (including niello, gold plating, and patina). These items may be damaged by the impact of concentrated dishwashing solutions. If your silverware is decorated with enamel, you should take extra care during washing. Enamel is a form of glass and should not be subjected to strong impacts or drastic changes in temperature.
WARNING: Never use abrasive solutions or rough scouring pads or brushes to clean silver silverware! These tools are likely to cause scratches and strip the manufacturer's protective coating that serves to delay the process of surface discoloration. We recommend cleaning your silver tableware with our special mild non-abrasive Silver Foam.
Over time, you may discover that your silverware has undergone some discoloration. This is a common occurrence and easily reversible. We recommend the following no-touch method for the removal of tarnish from silverware, based on an electrochemical oxidative-restorative reaction.
WARNING: Do not use the below electrochemical cleaning method for items decorated with niello or any other metal (ex: gold-plated). Gold-plated items can be restored to their original luster by rubbing them with a cut onion bulb, followed by a quick polish with a soft cloth or use our special mild non-abrasive Silver Foam.
1. Wear cotton gloves to prevent the appearance of marks caused by the natural grease from bare human hands.
2. Use a plastic, glass, or ceramic container large enough to fit all your items in horizontal fashion.
3. Cover the bottom of the container with household aluminum foil.
4. Fill the container with a hot (195°F) solution comprised of 4 dry oz of baking soda for every 1 quart of boiling water.
5. Fully submerge all of your tarnished silverware in the baking soda/water solution. You will begin to witness the restoration of your silverware almost immediately.
WARNING: Do not submerge items with enamel and/or precious stones into a hot electrochemical solution! The resulting thermal shock may cause the enamel or stones to crack. These items can be cleaned with the electrochemical solution only once the temperature of the solution has dropped to 115°F. It should be noted that at lower temperatures, the necessary chemical reaction will take longer to occur.
6. Carefully remove all the items from the hot solution using tongs or large tweezers.
7. Rinse the restored items in warm running water and dry them with a soft cloth.
To restore the appearance of your silver jewelry, wash the item(s) in warm water with some added bicarbonate of soda (2 dry oz of baking soda per 1 quart of water) or in warm soapy water with added ammonia spirit (1 tablespoon of ammonia per 1 quart of water). Once restored, rinse the item(s) in clean water and wipe dry with a soft cloth. To clean heavily tarnished silver jewelry or plain silver flatware, it is recommended that you use special Silver Clean solution that can be purchased at our stores in Toronto or New York or online. It is, however, possible to mix your own cleaning solution by combining water, ammonia spirit and dental power (ground chalk) at a ratio of 5:2:1. Apply this mixture to the item(s) using a soft cloth until all the tarnish is removed. Once clean, wash the item(s) thoroughly in water and pat dry with a soft towel. This process should restore the silver's original warm color and draw out the items distinct textures. Additional chemical cleaning is rarely necessary.
WARNING: Never use ammonia spirit as well as abrasive polishing cloths when cleaning nielloed silver jewelry or silver tableware. In order to clean nielloed silver jewelry or silver tableware, simply submerge the item(s) for a few hours in a combination of water and raw cut potatoes ('grandmother's method'). Or use our special mild non-abrasive Silver Foam for cleaning silver items with niello and silver gilded with gold.