60-Second Silver: Lacquering sterling silver leaves ugly streaks

Lacquering sterling silver and silverplate is generally not recommended because of the difficulties in obtaining a uniform coating, even when applied by a professional.

If the coating has not been applied well, it may even have streaks and small holes, so that when the object retarnishes, it could look worse than if no coating had been applied.

Lacquer will also eventually yellow and crack, allowing tarnish to form within the fissures and eventually under the protective coating.

Lacquer can easily chip or wear off of contact points on objects that have individual parts, such as covers on sugar bowls, coffee and teapots, boxes, salt shakers, and the like.

Strong solvents must then be used to remove the lacquer and the piece refinished, not always successfully.

If a sterling silver object is placed in an open display where surface protection is necessary, an archival micro-crystalline wax such as Renaissance is recommended. Renaissance will not yellow and will last for years if handled properly.

Since Renaissance wax is not as durable as lacquer, the object should be handled with cotton gloves because acid from your fingers may eventually remove it.

Renaissance wax can be purchased from Cutlery Specialties (restorationproduct.com). ?

Jeffrey Herman encourages anyone with silver-related questions that can’t be answered on his Web site hermansilver.com to contact him. He may be reached at 800-339-0417or jeff@hermansilver.com or at PO Box 786, West Warwick, RI 02893.

Jeffrey Herman started Herman Silver Restoration & Conservation in 1984, and has repaired and reconstructed everything from historically important tankards, tea services, and tureens to disposal-damaged flatware. Herman has worked at Gorham as a designer, sample maker, and technical illustrator and at Pilz Ltd., where he learned the fine art of restoration. Herman has a BFA degree in silversmithing and is the founder of the Society of American Silversmiths.

Read more of Jeffrey Herman’s 60-Second Silver columns.


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