Thursday, January 23, 2014

Thursday Thoughts: Sharing What You Know

Wanted to point you back to my friend Alison's wonderful blog (actually it belongs to Alison and her friend, Ellen)... Another super post on The Gracious Posse today!  They talk about one of my favorite subjects...silver!!  Also, one of my favorite things to do....I kid you not....polishing and properly storing silver.

When I first started my blog I wrote about silver and about one of my favorite places in the US... Replacements Ltd. in Greensboro, NC.  You can find that post here.  In it, I highlighted the Hagerty company and their products. I still firmly believe these are the best products on the market and I do not use anything else...ever...on my sterling or silverplate.  Check out the Hagerty's website yourself to learn more. (*Just my personal opinion/experience.  I am not a spokesperson for the company, nor do I guarantee their products.)

I remember my first trip abroad, in 1971 when I was 12. Traveling with Miss Betty meant lots of time in the shops and stores that had beautiful china, crystal and silver. Starting next week we'll talk about all of those things, the design genius Van Day Truex and more...but for today I want to leave you with one thought (same as before): "Use what you have!"

Most of us have things that stay "put up" except for the occasional holiday meal or celebratory occasion.  But even if it's the simplest of meals at home...use what you have....even the good stuff!  The more you use your silver, the less you have to polish it.  (And even though hand washing is often required, enjoy that as well. When you handle the pieces, think of the artisans' hands who made them.  Care for them!!) VERY careful about the information you glean online (or other places) about caring for things.  Here are some things I have learned in my professional life:

1. Do not put your sterling silver pieces in the dishwasher.  Not only is the detergent not good for it, the solder line that connects the knife blade to the handle can be easily compromised and it is a very expensive "fix."  Also, do not mix stainless steel and silver when you are washing up.

2.  The best way to prevent tarnish is to use, use, USE your silver! The second best way is to store silver in felts or lined containers. They do not have to be airtight, but closed is good. Lined flatware storage boxes, china cabinets, etc.  I use Hagerty's silver tarnish prevention strips in those areas (not touching the silver itself) to ward off tarnishing.  But, do not store your silver in plastic. It is tempting (and I have done that with silver-plated "junk" items myself!), but it is not optimal for the silver.  Moisture can be trapped and tarnishing and even pitting can occur.

3.  Use a quality silver polish or silver foam to clean your silver and buff it with a soft cloth. Do not take any shortcuts on this path...especially not the aluminum foil/baking soda trick. Stay away from anything that looks like a shortcut or trick. Also, use quality tools... the silver brush that Hagerty's sells is awesome for detail work, and their sea sponge is a great applicator for silver foam! I have a lot of silver...been collecting it for years and inherited a ton of it as well, so I actually have a professional polisher come in a couple of times a year and work with me.  She trained in South America, with a family that had a huge collection, and she has taught me a lot of tricks.  (For one, she polishes, buffs and then washes again with soap and water before drying/buffing one last time.)

4. Remember to touch-up needy items between the big work.  Silver gloves, sprayed with aerosol silver spray are specifically made for this and they are an excellent tool for decorative silver that you might have out in a living room, library, bedroom, etc. You can polish them/touch them up right there in the room! No long walk to the kitchen...

Check back tomorrow for "Friday Finds"....we'll start talking about hidden treasures in our houses and how to enjoy them!



P.S. We do a major polish twice a year...besides that, it's just touch up!

Baby cups going back four or five generations
with pictures of my daughter, nieces, nephews, and godchildren.

Cigarette case collection and silver bowls

Engraved award pieces from my grandparent's era

Dining room corner cabinet

Breakfast room corner cabinet.  Nine feet tall and full of lots of different pieces.
My favorite piece of furniture because it has an extraordinary story...
that needs its own blog post!

And how many of us have TONS of silver frames?
(Love the plated ones that have a sealant, so they don't tarnish!)

My great-grandmother's silver-plated coffee/tea service.'s dark in the Butler's Pantry.
Only the professional polisher can do justice to this.  It takes muscle!


  1. Liz - why do you not recommend using the aluminum foil/soda "soak" method?

    1. Good morning, Ellen! I do not recommend it for a number of reasons. One, although it chemically "lifts" tarnish, it can leave a white/cloudy film (luster) on the silver...and if you have any silver (especially older silver) that has decorative oxidation, it will remove that as well.

      Proper polishing adds to silver's it's not just the tarnish one wants to remove, it's also about the "polish" you give to the metal. I always tell people to think about their teeth when they think about the silver. Good regular care (brushing your teeth/using your silver), a professional clean/polish twice a year (dentist visit/polish silver). When you do visit the dentist, think of how the hygienist cleans your teeth. Now, imagine if instead of their careful work, they simply popped a Polident tablet in your mouth, added water and told you to sit there for a few minutes while it did its work. It would "lift" some things off your teeth...but it wouldn't be a proper polish...

      One of my jobs for Tiffany's when I was doing PR work for them was to travel around lecturing about the history of Tiffany & Co and specifically talking about their silver work. Back then, they still had the big silver factory in NJ, which looked like a fortress. It was an AMAZING place! I spent a day there once, and learned a lot from the silversmiths they had there. It is no longer in existence, but I noticed that they had a little info on their website. (They even have their own silver polish now!) Here's the link:

      Love your blog!! You and Alison are doing a terrific job! Cheers, Liz