There are enough old wives’ tales to confuse anyone with a penchant for silver. Because silver is a metal that oxidises, reacting to sulphur compounds and becomes black, the general belief is that the metal is damaged. This is not true.
There are two things that silver does not like. Salt pits the metal and the humble rubber band leaves an indelible mark on silver. The scratching from wear and tear does not harm at all. On the contrary, it gives the silver a patina that actually enhances its value.
There is no magic in cleaning silver. Most commercial cleaners do the job adequately. For the discerning, a mixture of powdered chalk with either ammonia or methylated spirits mixed to the consistency of milk will do nicely. Rub the mixture gently on the object with a soft cloth and leave to dry completely. Then with a clean cloth or soft bristle brush, remove the residue white powder.
Silver should not be left to tarnish to such a degree that it becomes necessary to have it buffed to bring back the shine. Hallmarks may be damaged by doing this. The cardinal rule is always to clean silver by hand.
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