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Sterling silver flatware corrosion question

Posted by lsst (My Page) on
Wed, Dec 4, 13 at 19:10

Does green corrosion on silver ALWAYS indicate it is silver plate or can sterling develop green corrosion?
I have a Reed and Barton punch ladle that is marked sterling silver but it has developed a green corrosion area on the handle.
It was purchased from a reputable dealer about 10 years ago.
It has been stored in a silver box with silica gel.
How do I clean it?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Sterling silver flatware corrosion question

The usual corrosion product for silver in air is silver-sulfide and that has a dull gray to dark gray color.

Copper based alloys usually form green to bluish green patinas. If the flatware is stored touching other metals, a variety of compounds may form.

When you said, "... stored in a silver box." Did you mean the box was made of silver, or was it a box intended for storing silver, but the box itself was made of something else. The box material can have an effect on what compounds are created.

Not knowing anything more about your pieces, I hazard a guess that your pieces are made of a copper alloy with silver plating.


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RE: Sterling silver flatware corrosion question

The usual corrosion product for silver in air is silver-sulfide and that has a dull gray to dark gray color.

Copper based alloys usually form green to bluish green patinas. If the flatware is stored touching other metals, a variety of compounds may form.

When you said, "... stored in a silver box." Did you mean the box was made of silver, or was it a box intended for storing silver, but the box itself was made of something else. The box material can have an effect on what compounds are created.

Not knowing anything more about your pieces, I hazard a guess that your pieces are made of a copper alloy with silver plating.


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RE: Sterling silver flatware corrosion question

I know that unlined salt cellars can develop green corrosion from the salt and that ammonia can be used to remove it.

I decided to try it on my ladle.
I isolated the spot and used a q-tip dabbed in ammonia on the spot. After a few minutes, the green corrosion began to dissolve and flake off. The corrosion is gone.

I did not leave the ammonia on for very long and I washed the ladle in warm soapy water to remove any remaining ammonia.

Jemdandy, thanks for the reply!


This post was edited by lsst on Thu, Dec 5, 13 at 1:38


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RE: Sterling silver flatware corrosion question

I'm glad that you found a "solution".


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RE: Sterling silver flatware corrosion question

If you contact Reed and Barton, they have a awesome silversmiths who will help you. Antique cupboard has some helpful silver care videos and the staff there is great with questions. Follow up with a high quality silver polish and if your anti tarnish box is 25 years+ you may need new lining or the tarnish retarding strips that you can place inside. Be sure the seals are tight and add some packets of moisture removing beads.


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RE: Sterling silver flatware corrosion question

Thanks for the tips kittymoonbeam!


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RE: Sterling silver flatware corrosion question

Not an expert on sterling, but like the tip about using ammonia... sparingly!

Several years ago, when people actually "crafted", I was into making wind chimes. Found my raw materials in big lots of mis-natched silver-plate stuff on Ebay... usually VERY CHEAP!! One BIG batch ended up with a LOT of one pattern (Patrician), that looked to be in pretty mice condition... little to no significant wear on usual spots on forks & spoons. Took some time and elbow grease, but cleaned up REALLY nice with good silver polish. I found a silver box at a thrift store or yard sale for next to nothing. Silver plates stays tarnish free in there.


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