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Lesson: don't over clean sterling

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Recent activity54908 of 181972Starsky and Hutch Magazines from 1976-78WOOD OIL PAINTING PIRATE CHEST
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Posted 4 years ago


(572 items)

This is a beautiful 1.75" swordfish pin/pendant I found years ago - it was filthy (like now) but 10 yrs ago I got too cleaner-happy and scrubbed off the black patina as shown in pic #1 near the tail. I wanted to ***!@?! myself when I realized what I'd done. Disgusted - threw it in a box and years later most the black has returned but will never be the same. I guess I'm just gonna have to wear it.

The mark is R sterling Mexico - and yes it is missing the pin - when I found it that was gone. On the back side are signs of recent green oxidation which I haven't done anything about. I will probably use a small wire brush or a pin to scrape away the oxidation. The back should be cleaned up without any damage to the piece. And yes - it has a wonderful handmade sterling chain w/individual soldered links.

Any other advice about cleaning sterling? I know most of the "jewelry cleaning solutions" are pretty rough. I won't EVER dip again.


  1. AmberRose AmberRose, 4 years ago
    I had a magic erasure moment myself.
  2. valentino97 valentino97, 4 years ago
    But did you actually erase something? I know I can never sell this item because it's been bunged up so bad. BUT (bung - But?! - sorry- I like words for some reason.) I won't make the same mistake again. Care to share?
  3. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 4 years ago
    Strong solution of lime/lemon & toothbrush. Be careful because if left too long will turn it black again.
  4. valentino97 valentino97, 4 years ago
    Thank you blunderbuss - do you mean to use either lime or lemon w/toothpaste? Or lime or lemon juice applied w/toothbrush? I've heard of using toothpaste before. Right now I have the cleaning paste in the grey/white jar - I think it might be a Howards product and that works great, but I'd like to have options. Thanks!
  5. valentino97 valentino97, 4 years ago
    Thank you Sean, Lee, Amber and Freiheit for your love.
  6. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 4 years ago
    Toothpaste is an abrasive, which means after it removes oxidation, it starts removing metal. It depends on what results you want. Are you trying to get it shiny overall or leave a patina in the recesses?
  7. valentino97 valentino97, 4 years ago
    I've ruined the patina in the recesses - can you tell - it's very uneven - about 3 different shades of black - so for this item I think just cleaning the back and top surface on the front is all I want to do. Plus remove the green oxidation. Will let you know how the lemon works. Thank you again!
  8. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 4 years ago
    Now that I see your objective, here is what I would do. Polish the whole thing including the recessed area. Take an old peanut butter jar or similar jar with clear sides & plastic lid. Remove the chain & poke tiny holes in the lid so that you can suspend the medallion under the inside. Wash the medallion real well with soap & hang it on the wire. Put some commercial ammonia in the bottom of the jar & screw the lid on. This only takes minutes so watch & remove lid as soon as it has the desired patina & wash. Do not let the liquid ammonia touch it. I suggest that you take it to a jeweler for polishing the new patina off of the high spots where you want it shiny. Bonne chance.
  9. Newtimes Newtimes, 4 years ago
    I usually dont clean my silver, but if I do, I use this method: take some metal foil, some soda crystals and some boiling water. Put the metal foil in a bowl, put your silver on the metal foil, then pour the soda crystals over it, pour the boiling water over everything and watch the magic happen ;-)
    It should start to bubble and smell really bad. After the blubbles stop, you can take out the silver, clean the soda residue by holding it under running water, and polish it softly with a clean cloth.
    I have read that this method actually changes the oxydised atoms back to what they were, so you don't loose any silver when you do this! And its really a lazy ass method!
    That always works for me :-)
  10. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 4 years ago
    Sounds good. What kind of soda crystals? Sounds like an easy way to get the screwed-up patina out of the hard to get to places. I'll definitely try that if I can get the right soda here.
  11. Newtimes Newtimes, 4 years ago
    You can get them in every supermarket. In the old days people used them to clean their houses. Here is an example of them:
    But their are different brands available.
  12. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 4 years ago
    Might be a problem finding that here but if it is a Limey product, there are Brit. isles off 2 sides of our rock.
  13. valentino97 valentino97, 4 years ago
    Thank you blunderbuss2 and Newtimes - I am going to try to clean and/or restore using your methods. Will see where I can find the soda crystals. I have a feeling our baking soda from a few prominent companies might have scared off the old-fashioned soda crystal manufacturers - but I'm going to see what's out there. Thank you both! You can pay a lot for specific cleaners - and I have some of those but I would like to have more household options so thank you both.
  14. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 4 years ago
    Found it after 4 stores. That stuff is like cheating! Going to try it on empty cartridge cases next. Thanks Newtimes.
  15. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 4 years ago
    What i found(last bottle) is liquid & works as described. It comes from Limey Land.
  16. antiquarius123 antiquarius123, 4 years ago
    The foil method works great but you have to make sure the silver is clean first - wash with soap and water. If grease and grime on the silver then the foil method will fail you in the spots where the grime is - soap and toothbrush first and then foil method.
  17. valentino97 valentino97, 4 years ago
    Thank you antiquarius - I will definitely post a 3rd or 4th picture once I try these techniques.
  18. valentino97 valentino97, 4 years ago
    Thank you Tony for your love.
  19. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 4 years ago
    I didn't wash my "coke fork" & it worked great but thanks. Will remember in the future. Didn't work on the brass cartridge cases though. Think I'll be reloading for the police on 3 islands & have thousands of cases to clean. Guess it's acid!
  20. Stillwater Stillwater, 4 years ago
    If you want you can carefully rub egg yolk onto the parts you want to darken, like with a paintbrush or something, Or anything with a high sulfur content.
  21. valentino97 valentino97, 4 years ago
    Thanks Stillwater - I didn't know that but will try it. Eggs seem to work on a lot of old things don't they?

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