Restoring and Preserving Antique and Precious metals
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 are 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.
Gold absorbs much of the ferric oxide when buffed and comes up a bold, bright gold color, if you use a white or green compound it will absorb the dye. Who wants green gold?
We have even seen bars of compound as coarse as a rough emery around 200 grit sold not only as jewelers rouge, but actually stated that it was suitable for use on precious metals. The product would destroy plate and tear off gold in a New York Heartbeat. This is what happens when terms are generalised and corrupted. We have been approached by salesmen who didn't even know the active abrasives in the compounds they were selling. They didn't know the grit, either. This is an intolerable state of affairs.
Be warned! In the U.S.A. what is generally termed as jewelers rouge is abrasive compound bars, and is only known as jewelers rouge because it is in bar form. That is all it has in common with rouge.
English Custom Polishing manufactures a liquid 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.
Gold should be handled the least of all metals, just because of its value, and its softness. It should NEVER be cleaned with abrasives, unless it is absolutely necessary. This is when you need jewelers rouge.
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
Silver, again, handling should be minimal. You can save a lot of money and time by using a very old 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.
Apply RENAISSANCE wax, or if you really want to make it bright, polish with our
CURATORS CHOICE - a liquid polish that will remove any stubborn oxidation with a compound equivalent to jeweler's rouge, and leave a superfine film of preserving wax on the item to preserve and protect the finish.
Silver plate, of course should never be polished with abrasives unless absolutely necessary, as it is so soft and easily removed, even with hand polishing.
Platinum, it's a beautiful and precious metal, so treat as you would for silver or gold.
Want to see some results?
Check out our photo gallery.
If It Shines has gorgeous silver and gold jewelry - to complete every look. Check out their website at ifitshines.com.