KEY TO PHOTO: 1. New and unused Sunshine Cloth (soft yellow treated cloth). 2. Used Sunshine cloth. Note dark areas where the oxidation has been removed from jewelry. 3. A sterling silver bangle with applied patina surrounding the Mayan King. Polish only the high spots, avoiding the intentional dark areas. 4. Old Pawn Navajo bracelet with time acquired patina. Use only a soft, untreated cloth to bring out the highlights, and allow the patina to remain. 5. A highly polished perfume pendant. Looks great, doesn't it?
Sterling silver obtains its character over time through a process of patination or oxidation. Some patina is desirable, while most will also agree that a black piece of sterling is not attractive! So how do you achieve a good balance?
- Start by simply cleaning the piece with a soft untreated cloth. It is amazing how much better a piece will look after going over it with a clean rag, like an old cotton T-shirt. If the piece still isn't as bright as you would like, invest in a SUNSHINE CLOTH. These special cloths are dense and soft, and are impregnated with dry silver polish. Bear in mind though, each time you polish, you are actually removing microscopic particles of metal, so use a careful touch.
- MOST IMPORTANTLY, some sterling silver jewelry has applied black patina (liver of sulphur) which the designer deliberately placed on the piece in order to achieve an interesting contrast. If you use a sunshine cloth on the applied patina, you will remove it forever, and lower its value. For many, the bright look of polished silver is a stunning sight. But for others, a too highly polished piece is devalued because only time can create the character that gives a piece its unique look. While a matter of personal taste, use the approach of "less is more," and proceed with caution.
- Paste silver polish is not recommended because of the difficulty in removing it from crevices (especially filigree). Chemical dips are too harsh, and will strip the piece of all of its character. There is no need for paste polish or dipping with the use of a Sunshine cloth. These cloths are easy to use, though be sure to change out your Sunshine cloth when it gets dirty (filled with silver particles). Concentrated particles are abrasive and will end up doing more harm than good.
- When storing silver jewelry, be sure that it is clean by wiping away perspiration or any other residues (like skin creams or makeup). Store each piece separately in a pouch (Bohemian Trading Company offers tarnish resistant pouches with each sterling silver purchase), or within a decorative lined jewelry box. We like the flocked comparment boxes with transparent lids that you can stack together.
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