Restoring and Preserving Silver
The most important thing about preserving antiques and precious metals is handling, or at least the avoidance of it. Sweat is very acidic. Every time a metal is handled, unless some kind of preventative steps are taken, such as gloves or cloth, acid is transferred from the hand to the item, preserving waxes are removed and protective ions are disrupted allowing the acids to begin the action we call oxidation.
Protective IONS!? Yes, that's right, protective ions. When we polish something, the surface of the metal is smoothed directionally, making the ions on the surface line up like soldiers. This not only helps conceal minuscule imperfections in the surface, but also helps for a barrier that the acids and salts have to penetrate and disrupt for the oxidation to occur. We can avoid this enormously by not handling anymore than is necessary. LOOK and ADMIRE, but don't touch. Remember this when you are finished with your handiwork restoring the piece to its former glory.
Also, NOT all compounds the same as our jeweler's rouge, as many people seem to believe. jeweler's rouge is a specific grade and made with ferric oxide, which gives it the red color. Rouge, being French for 'red', means it makes no sense to have green or white compound and call it rouge. If you ventured into Antwerp, the gold dealers capital of the world and offer a Jeweler a bar of green or white rouge, you would be laughed out of town.
English Custom Polishing manufactures a liquid jewellers rouge made from only the finest Ferric oxide combined with a synthetic wax, so it can be used to polish and protect all the fine metals that you might have in your antique collection.
We use only one preserving wax to protect precious pieces, RENAISSANCE. Unless there is need to physically polish the surface, Renaissance will remove grime and leave a stable protective coating that lasts years. This wax is pH Neutral, a microcrystaline synthetic wax, developed by the BRITISH MUSEUM and now in use at the SMITHSONIAN, the ROYAL ALBERT MUSEUM and most Major museums.
With Silver, again, handling should be minimal. You can save a lot of money and time by using a very old cleaning trick :
Find a plastic bowl, about 5-gallon capacity is normally plenty. The size needs to be enough to cover the silverware you are cleaning, fill with hot water, the hotter the better, add 2 tablespoons of sodium bicarbonate, (regular household baking soda)and 2 tablespoons of salt, stir it well, put a decent sized piece of aluminum foil in the bottom, place your silverware into the solution, standing on the aluminum. Now watch the oxidation disappear.