You never leave the house without your silver pocket watch. You bring it with you everywhere you go. It has been with you through birthdays and divorces, promotions and demotions, and even moved with you across states! With such frequent and heavy use, your silver pocket watch is bound to show signs of wear and tear. Your strongest and most persistent foe, in this case, is tarnishing.
What Causes Tarnish
Silver, whether real or plated, is metal. Humidity and chemicals in the air can cause it to lose its beautiful luster. These two, however, are not the only causes of tarnishing. Silver may also become tarnished upon exposure to salt, wool, felt, rubber bands, carpet padding, sulfur in the air, latex gloves, and oily residue left by our hands and fingers. Even food could tarnish your silver money clip, too. Tarnish-inducing food include onions, eggs, mayonnaise, and salad dressing.
The silver lining in this particular cloud is that tarnish may be prevented? How? Through proper storage and care of your silver pocket watch. Treat your beloved silver pocket watch as you would a favorite necklace or a pair of earrings.
When not in use, wipe your silver money clip clean. Wash it every now and then in warm water, using phosphate-free detergent. Then, dry it wit a soft cotton cloth.
The worst thing that you could do to your silver pocket watch is put it inside a dishwasher. Your silver pocket watch is not a plate. Do not lump it with the kitchenware. The detergent and high temperature in dishwashers will leave your silver pocket watch looking dull.
The proper way of cleaning silver is as follows:
1. Wash with phosphate-free detergent and warm water.
2. Dry with a clean and soft cloth. If you don’t have this, you may use soft cotton ball.
3. While wiping, be sure to rub in a straight, back and forth manner to maintain a uniform appearance. Do not rub in a circular motion.
Tarnish comes in different colors. Yellowish to brownish hues indicate the tarnishing is in its early stages and is therefore easier to remove. They may be washed off with warm water and phosphate-free soap. Or, they are simply wiped off by a polishing agent.
Black discoloration, on the other hand, is a sign of advanced tarnishing. To remove tough blemishes, use chemical dips. Professional silver restorers use chemical dips for black tarnishes that cannot be removed by liquid or paste polishes. Under no circumstances should you use toothpaste as a cleaning or polishing agent. Toothpaste has particles that are abrasive to silver.
Silver, whether plated or the real thing, is no different from people and ideas. It cannot survive the test of time without some help.