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Lesson: don't over clean sterling

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antiquarius123's loves16 of 229Vintage Deco Huge Mexican Fire Agate Sterling Ring 1"L x 18mm H 15mm WLarge Silver Filigree Square Brooch
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    Posted 8 years ago

    (732 items)

    This is a beautiful 1.75" swordfish pin/pendant I found years ago - it was filthy (like now) but 6 yrs ago I got too cleaner-happy and scrubbed off the black patina as shown in pic #2 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.

    The mark is R sterling Mexico - and yes it is missing the pin. Any other advice about cleaning sterling? I know most of the "jewelry cleaning solutions" are pretty rough. I won't EVER dip again.

    5/19/18: Posted this last picture of my swordfish. It has oxidized in 5 yrs. - not perfect, but I wear it now. Looks "almost" back to original.

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    1. AmberRose AmberRose, 8 years ago
      I had a magic erasure moment myself.
    2. valentino97 valentino97, 8 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, 8 years ago
      Strong solution of lime/lemon & toothbrush. Be careful because if left too long will turn it black again.
    4. valentino97 valentino97, 8 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, 8 years ago
      Thank you Sean, Lee, Amber and Freiheit for your love.
    6. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 8 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, 8 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, 8 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, 8 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, 8 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, 8 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, 8 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, 8 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, 8 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, 8 years ago
      What i found(last bottle) is liquid & works as described. It comes from Limey Land.
    16. antiquarius123 antiquarius123, 8 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, 8 years ago
      Thank you antiquarius - I will definitely post a 3rd or 4th picture once I try these techniques.
    18. valentino97 valentino97, 8 years ago
      Thank you Tony for your love.
    19. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 8 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, 8 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, 8 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?
    22. IVAN49 IVAN49, 3 years ago
      I think it was deliberately oxidized (intentionally darkened) to enhance the contrast between the fish and the background. It should be cleaned (any commercial silver polisher will do) and left for some time exposed to air until new patina develops and then clean the fish, leaving the patina in the background.Faster oxidation is possible with sulfur chemical solutions.
      See here:

      In a word, no harm done with over cleaning;sterling remains sterling.
    23. valentino97 valentino97, 3 years ago
      Ivan49 - Yes, it was intentionally oxidized by the Mexican artisan in the 40's, but unless I scrape everything away....I can't get the same even finish ever again. I wear it a lot and no one says "what's up with the weird patina?" LOL, but makes me sad that I messed it up in the first place by over cleaning.
    24. valentino97 valentino97, 3 years ago
      THANK YOU also to Blunderbuss2, Antiquairus123, Stillwater and Newtimes for the comments years ago about this pendant with suggestions how to fix or bring it back to it's original beauty.

      Why do I keep loving this after 6 years? I love it. I wore it today. LOL

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