By far the most fetching sight in a home is an array of sparkling silverware, well polished and winking in delight at its own splendour! But maintaining the pristine glow is a herculean task particularly during monsoons when the humidity levels rise above normal. Silver is happiest sitting in dust free and moisture free environment – a near impossibility in India! Sulphur is an arch enemy of sterling silver and is found in water, air, food, open drains and fuel emissions. Make your silver display area free of such exposure.
If there is a large collection on display then a de humidifier is recommended or silica pouches should be placed discreetly in the silver cabinets. Camphor, cloves or silver salts help in absorbing small quantities of humidity too. Activated carbon cloth or special polish cloths are available for a quick rub to maintain the peak appearance of silver. Silver mitts (gloves) come in really handy during monsoons when the metal acquires a tired, jaded look frequently. It is gentle and non abrasive but harsh on the skin and nails hence advisable to wear over cotton gloves. It is also a good idea to have all the displayed silverware professionally polished and lacquered just before the rains set in, in order to halt the tarnish process – lacquer blocks the acidic impurities from reaching the surface of the metal. After which do not wash your silver with hot water as it strips off the lacquer. Only warm water is recommended. Dry completely with a lint free cloth or a hair dryer, set on warm. Moisture residues react adversely with silver.
Yet no matter how much you protect your environment, silver’s intrinsic nature is wickedly whimsical and extremely demanding. One season will require at least a couple of polish sessions. Keep a bottle of Goddard silver cream polish ready for use as it is gentle grapevine has it that the Queen herself advocates its use in Buckingham Palace and Windsor castle! One of the simplest and most effective process for tarnish removal is – take a container large enough to hold the silver, place an aluminium foil, baking soda and hot water. Keep the silver immersed in this until all tarnish is cleaned. This works because silver sulphate (tarnish) gets converted back to silver metal, thus there is no loss of metal. Rinse again in warm water and while still warm, spread the polish over the surface in circular motion. Rub gently, rinse, dry thoroughly. It is easy to fall in lust or love with silver but of course it demands full throttled commitment, particularly when the weather plays a spoiler too. But if you have given in to its capricious beauty, do not deter as nothing compares with the magnificence of a heavy weight sparkling or the vintage patina-ed silver!
Author: Archana Kumari Singh, President of Frazer and Haws