While silver-plated antiques are not as valuable as solid-silver pieces, they are often treasured family heirlooms worth preserving. But what can you do when that silver coating fades or chips? There are many stop-gap measures you can take, but the only way to truly restore your silver-plated items to their former glory is through re-plating. Here are four reasons why your heirlooms deserve a fresh start.
Hiding Exposed Metals
Silver-plated items provide all the elegance and allure of silver without the associated cost. During the silver-plating process, a veneer of silver is bonded with electricity to a less expensive metal like copper or brass. This results in a beautiful silver finish that is chemically bonded to the inner metal, forming a single, solid object. The silver that covers your heirloom is as much a part of it as is the metal at its core.
Over time, however, that plating can wear away, exposing the metal below. This blemishes the appearance of your object and also leaves it vulnerable to corrosion and other damages. Silver acts as a non-corrosive shield for weaker metals. Without its intended coating, your heirloom will not be protected from the normal deterioration of corrosive metals, and its value as a decorative piece will be diminished.
Restoring an Item's Intended Luster
Even if your heirloom's silver coating does not reveal the metal beneath, it will still fade and tarnish over time. For solid silver, the only answer to this problem is to carefully treat and polish the metal. Silver-plated items offer a somewhat simpler solution through regular re-plating.
During a re-plating procedure, the old coating of silver is first removed. The metal must be completely clean for the plating to work. Once it is primed and ready, electrolysis chemically bonds a layer of silver, just like its initial manufacture. Your heirloom can then be polished and returned to display, with no extra effort on your part.
With a fresh coat of silver, your heirloom can shine as its creator intended. Instead of looking like a worn-out antique, sitting unnoticed in the corner, it will stand out as a centerpiece wherever you place it. Bright, clean silver is a beautiful addition to any room, reflecting the amount of care and attention it has received.
Making Tableware Safe for Use
If you own silver-plated tableware like plates, cups or cutlery, you may want to bring it out for special occasions. But while silver is safe for human use, the metals below may not be. Pewter, for example, is a common base metal in antique pieces, but it often contains lead. Over time, exposure to these toxins can lead to significant health and developmental problems.
Be aware of the metals beneath your silver plating and be sure that any surface you eat or drink from is properly covered before use. By having your tableware professionally inspected and re-plated, you can rest assured that any meals or drinks you serve are safe for human consumption. At the bare minimum, you should always have antique tableware checked for lead before use.
Extending the Lifespan of Your Heirlooms
A silver-plated antique that is allowed to tarnish and erode for too long will eventually begin to rust. Once this process begins, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to reverse the damage. The only way to preserve metal is to treat it with the respect it deserves throughout its lifespan. With the right care, silver-plated pieces can last just as long as solid silver.
Through basic maintenance, you can protect your family's heritage for many future generations to share and enjoy. Re-plating is a straightforward process, and the expert technicians at General Plating Company aim to make your restoration experience as quick and easy as possible. Contact them today to learn more about their silver-plating services and how their professionals can help you with your project.