antique silverSilver mining has existed since 3000 BC, and since then, people have had a love affair with this lustrous metal. Silver heirlooms and antique silver products are delightful to own, wear, and display, and with the right care, they can continue to be a bright spot in your home. Whether you've just purchased sterling candlesticks or inherited antique Chinese silver, here are the steps you can take to keep your silver in impeccable shape. 


In General...

You should keep your antique silver wrapped in cotton, linen, or jewelers cloth. While you do want to keep your silver dusted and polished to avoid tarnish, beware of over-polishing, as this can expose the base metal. You can also consider having your silverware coated with lacquer or micro-crystalline wax to prevent corrosion. 


Silver Sets and Decor

Silver plated tea sets were designed to be used every day, so don't hesitate to bring out your sterling tray and teaspoons. With that said, you'll want to make sure that you take extra care with your antique sterling. Silver should always be washed by hand, never in the dishwasher. Water can also cause spotting and corrosion, so after washing, you should dry immediately with a soft towel. Experts recommend buffing a sterling silver tea set with polish cloths once a week after washing. 


Sterling Silver Jewelry

As with your antique silver dishware, silver jewelry shouldn't go near water or sweat. Be sure you don't wear your Tiffany silver to the gym, the pool, in the shower, or while doing chores. You'll also want to know the fineness of your silver, based on the silver standard. Sterling silver, for example, has a rating of 925 (meaning that it is 92.5% silver) and does not require much maintenance. High quality silver, such as French First Standard or Britannia Silver, are rated 950-958 and require more maintenance. Fine silver, by this standard, is 99.9% silver and is not used in everyday products. 

If you're not sure about the value, history, or care of your antique silver, silver dealers and antique collectors can tell you more about your pieces. Whether you want to display or sell your silver, maintaining the finish and integrity of the piece will help it last through the ages.