Silver and Silver Gilt

Unlike gold, silver will tarnish, causing initially a light brown staining which will deepen to dark brown and finally, if left untreated, to a compact dark grey or black surface. The consequence of this is that most silver articles sustain wear to the surface as a result of frequent polishing, and possible physical damage caused by the regular handling that cleaning entails. The surface of silver gilt objects is even more vulnerable to damage as the thin layer of gold is easily worn away. To minimise the risk of further damage, measures to reduce the cleaning and handling of silver are crucial to long term care. Our conservation of silver and silver gilt objects usually takes the form of careful cleaning, using a variety of gentle techniques which remove tarnish and old polish residues left by years of cleaning. If the particular display circumstances or condition of the piece demand it, we may recommend that we lacquer the piece, which negates the need for polishing. When applied properly, a lacquer will remain in good condition for over ten years and can therefore contribute greatly to the survival of the object and its surface decoration. Small repairs or the replacement of mising pieces may also be required, and our staff has the experience to carry these out using traditional silversmithing techniques, to a very high standard.