Antique Sterling Silver from Nelson and Nelson Antiques
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Why Silver Keepsake Items Are the Best

August 31, 2021 9:11 am
Antiques : Decorative Art : Metals : Silver

Silver has a long history of importance; many important items with silver or made of silver have been cherished as gifts since its discovery. Even today, silver is beloved as a material for treasured ornaments and fine household items. It isn’t easy to list a few reasons why sterling silver makes the best gifts, but our favorite reasons are its real value, durability, and exceptional beauty.

Silver Holds Real Value

Buying a piece of silver isn’t like exchanging coins for a mere bauble. Rather, it’s an investment into the future. As a result, real silver doesn’t depreciate like other commodities and conveniences. Instead, its value is tied to the overall evaluation of silver.

In other words, it’s one of the few items that truly holds value. It will always be in demand and so is worth collecting way more than an average hobby piece. Silver collectors can buy and sell pieces at their leisure without worrying about purchases becoming worthless, unlike many other collectible items on the market today.

Silver is a Durable Material

Another compelling reason why sterling silver makes the best gifts is pure durability. Its ability to withstand time is showcased by just how many antique pieces have survived over the years. Silver permeates human history down to its very roots. Additionally, it’s very repairable in most cases.

The oldest discovery of silver reaches back to 4000 BCE in the form of rudimentary coins. Every era from then on has been blessed by increasingly ornate examples of fine craftsmanship. Gifting a mother-to-be with a sterling silver baby cup is essentially equivalent to giving them a guaranteed family heirloom. Your gift will outlast you and be cherished by generations to come.

Silver has Unrivaled Beauty

The most straightforward reason why silver is always a welcome gift is its incredible beauty. Few things are as captivating as a well-polished piece of silver. In addition, it’s a malleable metal and readily accepts complex forms. Silver has been made into just about any form imaginable from engraved designs, embossed elements, and complex casts.

It’s best known to be shaped as exceptionally beautiful everyday objects like vases, dishware, and silverware.

Lastly, silver only becomes more beautiful as it ages. Tarnish often finds its way into the fine spaces of a silver piece, and while it can be removed, many people think tarnish highlights and enhances a piece’s beauty.




The History of Silver and Interesting Facts About It

August 26, 2021 4:40 pm
Antiques : Decorative Art : Metals : Silver

Silver has a long history of being both valuable and deeply admired. Cultures have likened its beauty to moonlight, and artisans have been crafting it into great tools and art pieces for generations. It’s still greatly valued today for its unique beauty and uses in electronic components. Yet, despite its worldwide fame, few people know the history of silver and interesting facts about it.

Early Discoveries of Silver

Historians date some of the oldest silver as far back as 4000 BCE. It’s one of the first metals ever discovered alongside gold, copper, tin, lead, and iron. The earliest uses uplifted silver from its more utilitarian metal siblings from the time. It was most commonly used to craft rudimentary coins and was primarily used as money.

From then, it would go on to be treasured as a beautiful material to craft precious items, including various everyday tools (albeit these were reserved for wealthier citizens). Silver is best known today in the forms of fine flatware, dishware, and decorative pieces such as sterling boxes.

What Is Silver Tarnish?

Most people are familiar with the fact that silver tarnishes. Contrary to popular belief, however, tarnish doesn’t ruin a piece by any means. Instead, it’s the result of oxidation and can only be deterred with the proper storage methods. Silver is nonreactive to water, as are other metals. What’s more, silver and its tarnish are nontoxic. It’s naturally germicidal and safer to eat from as a result.

Modern Applications of Silver

The history of silver and interesting facts about it are still unraveling to this very day. Most of all, silver is used today to continue the tradition of fine tableware. Besides this, it has many practical industrial applications. Due to its conductivity, it’s often mixed with alloys and used to solder elements on chips. Its antibacterial qualities play a role in developing and producing new medicines to this day.

Silver’s resilience to corrosion and nonreactivity to color dyes has made it a preferred material throughout the electronic industry. Lastly, we also find silver in everyday items such as engines, batteries, and even common detergents. Without a doubt, silver is among the most valuable and useful resources we have.

 




Mixing Vintage and Modern Décor Made Easy

July 29, 2021 9:34 am
Gifts & Home Decor

With so many beautiful styles to choose from, it’s hard to decide how to decorate a home. People most often struggle with the decision between a newer or older look. However, mixing vintage and modern décor is made easy with an understanding of each style. Although each independent piece may differ significantly, there’s no need to put the beloved things into storage just because they don’t fit within a certain style. Instead, it’s easy to build a style that incorporates a mixture of your favorite looks.

Comparing Modern Trends With Vintage

If there was ever a reason for people to be afraid of mixing the old with the new, it would be due to the differences of intent. Vintage furnishing tends to range from incredibly ornate to more rustic and handmade. Almost all of it is made from natural wood or metals, and it’s generally intended to look and feel like a little slice of luxury.

Most commonly, older items use heavy mahogany stains along with brown, black, or gold detailing. Many find the detail-rich look of these styles to be intimidating, especially alongside modern styles. However, whether you’re going for a mid-century modern style or something closer to contemporary, the intent is simplification. In other words, to properly blend vintage and modern styles, it’s essential to create a balance between stark minimalism and the more detail-heavy antiques.

Techniques for Mixing Different Styles

The first and easiest way to mix different styles is via a matching color palette. Depending on the materials favored in a home’s furniture, this can be pretty easy to do. Since antique woods are usually either a deep cherry or deep mahogany stain, just about any furniture chosen within those palettes will blend in nicely.

What’s more, it’s easy to use the dark and heavy look of antiques as the dark half of a contemporary high contrast palette. Metals are even easier to blend, as almost every era has made use of silvers and gold. For instance, a sterling silver picture frame will mesh into any design regardless of the room’s style. Choosing vintage pieces as the eye-catcher or conversation piece in the room is a great way to hide a favorite old treasure in plain sight.

Emphasize What Interests You

Mixing vintage and modern décor comes down to one’s own tastes. There’s no actual rule that says a home needs to follow any decorating rules save that of the owner. It’s best to use styles as a rule of thumb and a measure to refine decorating tastes as a whole. After that, it’s entirely up to each person to put their creativity to work.

Regardless of the styles chosen or the furniture in your collection, the layout of each room only needs to conform to what makes the family feel comfortable. Have fun learning about different styles, makers of furniture, and potential color palettes to make your home décor entirely unique.




The History Behind Silver Markings

July 27, 2021 2:06 pm
Antiques

The most important part of collecting anything is to understand the pieces thoroughly and adequately. Without proper identification, it’s challenging to know what pieces to add, and it makes selling unwanted pieces a risky affair. Fortunately for fans of fine collectibles, the history behind silver markings is rich with helpful information and identifiers to help collectors understand and perfect their collections.

What Are Silver Markings?

Anyone curious about silver markings needs only flip over their favorite antique piece to discover the rich legacy hidden below. Real silver is always denoted with a numeral marking. Sterling is easily identified with the traditional 925 numbers, which indicate the purity of 92.5 percent, with the remaining percentage consisting of other metals for hardness and resilience.

Besides this indicator, quality silver usually has one or more symbols and stamps. Though they’re sometimes hard to make out, the additional markings tell designers and artisans about the piece’s origins. Everything and anything from a silver tray to a sterling silver box should have these markings if it’s a quality piece and a genuine antique.

The Evolution of Hallmarks

Unsurprisingly, the need to identify creators shifted as the skills of crafters grew. A business was founded, and it eventually became the legacy of silver collecting we know today. The history behind silver markings is different for each manufacturer, but all follow a similar pattern. The earliest symbols are often the simple print of names or initials.

Over time, these marks would give way to more complex company emblems, crests, and logos. Often creators would endure a series of changes to their stamp, which marks historical events happening around them and grow in their own companies and business directions.

Identifying Silver by Markings

To begin identifying your collection, it helps first to know what era each item is from. It’s possible to identify makers by the symbols alone—save for the fact that the makers would frequently alter their symbols over time. Knowing the period of a piece first will therefore reduce the number of possibilities. Some of the more complex and well-documented pieces originate from the forges of the United Kingdom. Unsurprisingly these pieces are easily identifiable by the iconic lion symbol.

Other creators also tend to have tell-tale marks. The best way to begin sorting through possible makers is to photograph the marking of your pieces and compare them with the image found in collector’s catalogs or online. Once you’ve sorted your collection by maker and era, it’s much simpler to decide which pieces to focus on for future collecting.




How Do You Clean Heavily Tarnished Silver?

July 6, 2021 9:14 am
Antiques

How Do You Clean Heavily Tarnished Silver?

Many people erroneously believe that tarnish is a sign that an antique piece of silver is ruined. In truth, tarnish is a natural process that occurs over time as silver is exposed to normal amounts of moisture and oxygen. While good storage techniques help deter tarnish, it can still happen. For many rare and beautiful old pieces of silver, excessive tarnish is a scary sight for collectors. This begs the question; how do you clean heavily tarnished silver?

Often, you can restore even the roughest and patchiest looking tarnished silver to full beauty. However, anyone that has tried to polish silver already knows how stubborn dark marks can be. On embossed pieces, this can add a beautifully aged appearance and highlight markings. But for the most part, collectors want to get rid of stubborn tarnish.

Removing Moderate to Heavy Tarnish

Looking at silver with heavy tarnishing is intimidating, to be sure. Luckily, many silver collectors agree with this sentiment. As a result, many quality silver care products are available and easy to use at home. The best by far is common silver paste. It comes in a compact jar complete with a soft foam pad.

Simply dip the foam into the paste and massage it into the silver. Tarnish will come away, leaving shining restored silver. Afterward, rinse the silver piece thoroughly in warm water, and be sure to dry it completely using a clean acid-free cloth.

Repair Yellowing Silver

Besides dark marks, antique silver tends to acquire a soft yellow tone. While this is fairly attractive on aged display pieces, it’s still a sign of tarnishing. To achieve a bright finish again, a much simpler solution than paste is best. A silver polishing cloth is effective at removing yellowing, especially polish mitts.

Slip your hand inside the cloth mitt and gently work the piece in your covered hand. After a bit of handling, the yellowing will lift off without much effort. The mess-free nature of this polishing tool makes it a great go-to solution for routine and quick polishing.

When in Doubt, Seek a Professional

Sometimes a beautiful sterling silver engravable box pops up that would be perfect in your collection. Unfortunately, it’s so tarnished that it’s barely even recognizable as silver. So how do you clean heavily tarnished silver? When it comes to items that seem unsavable, the best method is not to do it yourself but to seek assistance. Attempting to scour, scrub, and polish silver that’s extremely tarnished can and will cause damage. A silversmith is much better equipped to carefully address very stubborn spots and restore your piece to perfection safely.

Nelson and Nelson have been in the business of antique silver for 40 years. Our dedicated silversmith puts his expertise and skill to work each day, restoring and protecting antique pieces. We take the utmost care of your silver!