Silver requires delicate handling if you are to keep it for long periods in good condition.

General tips

Contrary to popular belief, silver doesn't tarnish particularly rapidly unless it's left in an atmosphere where sulphur is present.
For cleaning there are a number of safe silver polishes on the market which can be used with a soft cloth.
  • Always make sure you remove all traces of polish, as it can clog up decorated areas.
  • Pointed swabs designed for applying make-up are very good for getting into
    difficult or recessed areas.
  • Avoid using toothbrushes when cleaning as they could scratch the surface.
  • Don't over polish silver as you may erase decoration and eventually wear the
    metal thin.
  • If you have to wash your silver do it quickly in luke-warm, soapy water. Rinse
    and dry very thoroughly.
  • Never soak your silver or put it in the dishwasher.
  • Wrapping silver in an anti-tarnish cloth will help protect it from pollutants and


Mending a knife

Sometimes the blade comes away from the handle of a knife.  The material binding the two is called 'pitch'. When the blade has come away only an inch or so, or in some cases when the handle has come off completely, there may be enough pitch in place to repair it.
  • Examine the 'tang' (the part of the blade that goes into the 'pitch'). Is it intact?
  • What is it made of? It may be a base metal such as iron.
  • You will probably need to heat the pitch. To do this put the knife in a safe area  near a heat source, perhaps near a radiator or stove, so that it can slowly  soften. If it does soften then you may be able to ease the blade back in.
  • Don't force it.
  • Don't use hot water to heat the knife as this can cause the metal to rust.


Cleaning candlesticks

Frequently used candlesticks can build up a thick body of wax. However tempting, never try to scrape it off with a knife.  There's a simple solution:
  • Leave the candlesticks in a warm room to soften the wax.
  • Then lay the candlestick down, supporting uneven areas with soft, clean cloths.
  • Then use a blunt cocktail stick to slowly and carefully remove the wax.
  • Finally, if necessary, buff up with a silver polishing cloth.
  • Don't put candlesticks in a freezer to harden the wax for easy removal. The 
    metal can react (sometimes dramatically) to this temperature change.
    Candlesticks are often made of more than one metal and if exposed to a
    dramatic change in temperature they may react at a different rate and cause the candlestick to split apart. The temperature change could also loosen applied decoration such as inlay, enamel or paint.