A Matter of Brilliance is a professional jewelry appraisal company based in Newton, MA, founded by Aimee Berrent, Graduate Gemologist. Our appraisals can be used to:
Spring celebrations are a great time for showing off your fine silverware. It can also be the time when you see how tarnished it is since you last used it. Here are some tips for cleaning and storing your silver flatware. And if you realize your lifestyle isn’t really silver-worthy, I’ve got some thoughts on that, too. Learn how to identify different types of silver.
Cleaning your silverware
You know about tarnish, but what is it? It is the discoloration that develops from exposure to the sulfides in the air and other sources of sulfur. That’s why silverware is generally wrapped in cloth and packed in a closed box.
Good Housekeeping recommends that you use silver polish and dampened soft cloths, rubbing in an “up-and-down, not circular, motion to avoid highlighting fine scratches.” They suggest that you turn the cloth around as you work, so you don’t rub back the tarnish. Rinse the silver and dry carefully.
Here are some other tips for keeping your silverware sparkling:
- Use a gentle polish that’s made specifically for silver.
- Don’t use your fine silver with eggs or mayonnaise; the sulfur in these foods can cause it to tarnish.
- Don’t use a toothbrush to get into crevices; the nylon bristles can scratch.
- Don’t store it in plastic bags—they break down and can discolor the flatware.
- Don’t use toothpaste to clean silver; it’s abrasive and can cause pitting.
If your silver no longer matches your lifestyle
I hear from a number of parents who are dismayed that their children don’t want their treasured silver flatware. It just doesn’t fit millenials’ lifestyles. So what do you do with it, especially if you’re downsizing?
If you do decide to sell your flatware, here are some suggestions:
- Get it appraised! Once you know the value, you can decide if you’re getting a good deal. Then…
- Try a silver replacement service. If your pattern is in high demand, you may receive a better price than someone who’s going to melt it for the silver. This service may be interested in silver plate as well.
- Consider a local coin shop or jeweler. They’ll buy it based on the silver content rather than the flatware itself, so you won’t get lots of value.
- Sell it yourself to a private party, or sell it at an auction (remember that the auction house will take a portion of the sale as its commission).
Silver flatware can add a festive, elegant touch to your table. But the most important thing is to enjoy—and use—it. If you find you’re not using it the way you used to, give me a call and we can determine its value.
Brilliantly yours, Aimee