Jeffrey Herman Newsletter

The Modern Butlers’ Journal, October 2019, Consulting the Silver Expert

Consulting the Silver Expert

by Jeff Herman


If your employer is unaware of what may be happening to the silver surface under a layer of tarnish, you may want to make them aware.

I have worked on many objects that have rarely been polished, leading to the “tarnish etching” of the object’s surface. Allowing your silver (or any possession) to slip into an unkempt state may result in a drop in value and it will then have to be conserved or restored.

Neglect isn’t the only matter to be concerned with: Poor maintenance, using polishes that are too abrasive, will wear away silver at a rapid rate. This is especially true for plated objects, where the base metal will be exposed over a short period. I have seen numerous pieces containing hallmarks that have been all but polished away; if this were a rare piece where the maker couldn’t be identified, the result could be a substantial drop in value.

For example, the US Open perpetual trophies are refinished prior to presentation, when they should be hand polished. Over time engraved names of some of the winners of this event have gradually been eradicated. These are cherished antiques with finishes that must be preserved.

Below is an example of what can be done when proper silver-cleaning techniques are employed. This 12″ bowl came to me in a very grimy state:

I first rinsed the piece under warm water to remove any particulate matter. While it was still wet, I sprayed it with Better Life Natural All Purpose Cleaner, waited a couple of minutes, then used a horsehair brush to remove what was left of the grime. I then rinsed the piece and polished it with Herman’s Simply Collectors Silver Polish. I only had to use 1/2 of an ounce of polish along with many cotton balls, makeup pads, and Q-tips. Total cleaning and polishing time: 1 hour 40 minutes.

If you are about to clean and/or polish a piece, please consult my page on The Care of Silver:

Mr. Herman continues to offer his services to our readers for any questions you may have about the care of silver. Either contact him at (800) 339-0417 (USA) or via email: jeff @

The Institute is dedicated to raising service standards by broadly disseminating the mindset and superior service expertise of that time-honored, quintessential service provider, the British Butler, updated with modern people skills, and adapted to the needs of modern employers and guests in staffed homes, luxury hotels, resorts, spas, retirement communities, jets, yachts & cruise ships around the world.