Silverware, silver cutlery and dishes, have long been some of people’s most prized possessions, and are often passed down through the generations. They are eye-catching when on display, and functional as well, but as they are made from silver, both Pure Silver and Sterling Silver, they do have the normal silver problem of tarnishing. Preventing tarnish on silverware is possible but it is not always easy or practical.
Tarnish on silverware basically occurs due to a reaction of the precious metal with sulphur in the air. If air is therefore kept away from the silverware, then tarnishing will not happen. This of course means keeping the silverware in an airtight storage unit. This may be fine for display pieces of silverware, but is impractical for those pieces of silverware that are used.
Similarly coating silverware with petroleum jelly or other films may ensure tarnish free objects, but will also render them unusable as eating utensils and dishes.
Storage, even if not in an airtight environment is an important factor in helping to reduce the rate of tarnishing, although it will not totally eliminate it. If pieces of silverware are not on display, they should be carefully stored, ideally wrapped in cloth specifically designed to help prevent tarnishing. These cloths may not be common but are stocked at many jewellery stores for their use with silver jewellery.
The place of storage is also an important consideration; any moisture present in the area of storage will only increase the rate of tarnishing upon the silverware. A totally dry environment may not be possible in many houses, but excess moisture can be removed through the use of silica gel, rice or a number of other products.
Using silverware will help to reduce the amount of tarnish that builds up upon it. The usage itself is only a minor consideration though; it is in fact the cleaning that occurs after use that will ensure that a visible build up of tarnish doesn’t occur. If the silverware is not being used then a clean down with a lint free cloth, will allow for the same reduction in tarnish, as it will wipe it away. Cleaning silverware is seen as a chore by many people, but it is probably the most effective way of keeping it clean and pristine looking, and a quick, regular clean will achieve amazing results.
Preventing tarnish on silverware, or indeed any other form of silver, is not always practical, but it should be remembered that tarnishing is a natural occurrence. Tarnishing does no damage to the silverware, so cleaning it off is often the simplest approach to reducing the visual impact of the tarnish.