When will they learn

Nearly cried the other day and nearly punched out a mate who claims
to be an antique dealer.

He showed me a heavy sterling (English Hallmarked) bowl with an 3D
elephant on a pedestal in the centre of the bowl. Looked beautiful
till I put my glasses on.

Pulled it out of a dumpster at a garage sale. Fair enough it was

He knows I am a silversmith. The next part is not for the faint

He told me " I cleaned it up with steel wool because it was really
tarnished. That is the right thing to do is it not?"

Wow how to wreck a late 19 th century piece of quality silver.

I could have cleaned it in 10 mins. And in half an hour polished it
up to a high shine.

Now to fix it would take about 3 hours. The only major damage was
what he had done. And cost some money.

His partner bought a silver tea set I did not want to see what
damage she had done to that.

But a quick look into the cabinet showed residue of silvo, silver

Did not even wash it before putting it up for sale. Heaven or more
likely a paramedic

will help anyone who makes tea with that.

For $50 I will restore a piece of undamaged hollow ware. And it will
the price up considerably more than $50.

False economies cost money.

Xtines Jewels

I am not a jeweler, but it took my breath when I read about the
steel wool. I would think, in their business, they would look it up
if they weren’t sure. I love antiques & would hate to cause damage
to them. I look for a way to clean, repair or store any I am not
sure of how to take care of. I don’t know how you were able to keep
your cool! Regina

He told me " I cleaned it up with steel wool because it was really
tarnished. That is the right thing to do is it not?" 

I took a sharp breath in when I heard this :open_mouth:

Regards Charles A.

it took my breath when I read about the steel wool. 

Heh. I stopped at a garage sale once and found the homeowner
attacking a Gustav Stickley chair with 60 grit sandpaper. I suggested
he get an appraisal before proceeding, since the set of six was worth
$300-$400 per chair.

Al Balmer
Pine City, NY

I look for a way to clean, repair or store any I am not sure of how
to take care of. 

That’s the problem in this case. He tried to “clean” the item.
Unless an antiques expert or professional restorer, we should all
steer clear of trying to clean or repair antiques, which are usually
more valuable in their dirty/broken state than after the attempts of


Sorry, I wasn’t clear about my “…look for a way to clean…”. By
that Imeant, I research for the right way using the internet,
expert, library, to find the answer. If I do it using my judgment,
there is every reason to expect something to go wrong! I so hate to
see a beautiful antique, even in rough condition, to be ruined. So
many times I think but don’t write in a way I get my idea across.

How about a maid “polishing” an entire silverplated teaset with
steel wool!!!

Jeff Herman

It’s not just antiques that get ruined when being cleaned. Many years
ago, before I began making jewelry, my husband designed a ring for me
as a Christmas gift - and I loved it. But we took it to a local
jeweler to be resized. When the jeweler handed it back he proudly
pointed out that, as an extra service, he had “cleaned it and
eliminated the scratches” at no charge. Needless to say it wasn’t
scratches he eliminated, it was a delicate brushed finish which the
jeweler could not replace.

And yes, I never returned to his shop, and he did eventually go out
of business.

Mary Partlan
White Branch Designs

When the jeweler handed it back he proudly pointed out that, as an
extra service, he had "cleaned it and eliminated the scratches" at
no charge. 

Some people just don’t get it. One of the first pattern welded
knives I made I showed to my Dad.

He said: You know with a bit of emery you could clean up those

Regards Charles A.

Hi Jeffery

I am the original poster. You gave me a nasty flashback.

My now wife had a boarder helped out by polishing an ashtray with
steel wool.

English assay marked, sterling. Many expletives ensued.

The polisher was a jewellery apprentice at the time, what happened
to education?

I think that Orchid may well be responsible for a re-birth in quality
silver and gold smithing and gem setting.

So newbies not matter how dumb you think your question is post it.

There will be some one out there to answer it.

When I was at The School for Silversmiths, the senior students were
always laughing when the newbies did something dumb. This annoyed me
so I asked them why they were laughing at me.

They said we are not laughing at you, but we remember when we did the
same thing. In learning we all make dumb mistakes at least once.

Do not be afraid to ask, no matter how simple you think the question

Go to Orchid before youtube which is often the WORST resource.

Like 'I have just done a weekend course and now I have posted a

on how to set up a workshop.’ LOL


Xtines Jewels

Hello Richard,

Isn’t it interesting that when we’re learning this craft, the last
thing we’re taught (or not taught at all), is how to care for the
objects we create. It’s like going through surgery and not
instructing the patient how to care for themselves when they’re at

I hope everyone in this group has been through The Care of Silver
page Silver polishing, silver cleaning, and silver storage

on my Web site to discover the best way to care for, preserve, and
display the objects they have created. There have been numerous
professional silversmiths I’ve met over the years who to this day
recommend the absolute worst silver polishes for use on their
creations. As a silversmith specializing in silver restoration,
conservation, and preservation for almost 30 years, it’s my ethical
responsibility to give my clients (as well as other silver lovers)
the most thoroughly researched advice.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions you can’t find
answers to on my care page.

Jeff Herman

I refinished a table and chairs set with a hand rubbed oil finish. A
friend stripped it down and refinished it with urethane as a
"favour" to me when I loaned him my apartment. Sometimes a person has
to do something twice, even when the tongue is bleeding.

Barbara in a much-needed rain on the Island.

I have been following the posts with enthusiasm. I collect vintage
andantique furniture and accessories. Whenever possible, I just give
the vintage/antique furniture a good cleaning with Murphy’s Oil Soap
and drying off with old towels. However, I’ve come across furniture
that was bastardized, and had to strip off the offending paint and
bring the original wood luster or tone back. I have restored an
lovely 1920’s chest ofdrawers, a 1950’s Waterfall armoire (that some
IDIOT painted white withugly kelly green on the drawer pulls).

I keep the original paint and any labels with the furniture. I’m
fortunate enough to live in a town with a proper transfer station
(the dump as we locals call it) that has a collection area. As a
result, I’ve comehome with really nice furniture and accessories.

Recently, I was teaching a workshop, and a student said she was
hoping to try to do something with her old wedding rings. What
happened is thatsome thoughtless jewelry store took her two rings,
soldered them together in the wrong place, didn’t even line up the
rings, or check the stones, or clean up the solder blob. It was a
hack job. She had the rings in a box for over 15 years, unable to
look at them or deal with them. Iseparated the two rings which came
apart too easily, cleaned off the solder blob, tightened the center
mounting, checked the other diamonds, and polished them up. My
student was crying by the time I handed her the rings. I restored
her faith and brought back the happiness she used to have with her
rings. She was so happy and so thrilled.

Those are the things we look for in the jewelry trade. I did tell
her, if you need any work done in the future, come to me first. I
could have taken that jewelry store and shot the offending guy who
hacked the job in the first place. Some people don’t listen or do
the job they were supposed to do. I don’t mean all of you on Orchid,
just some of the less scrupulous jewelry stores that are out there.


hand rubbed oil finish stripped it down and refinished it with
urethane as a "favour" to me when I loaned him my apartment 

Oh no! My dad did something similar, albeit to his own furniture. My
brothermade a beautiful oak bench for my mom and dad, and he
finished it by hand with oil (can’t remember which sort). The next
summer, Dad painted it with a horrible coloured stain and varnished
it!!! It looked revolting!


Hi Joy et al

Question In France I believe they have “crimes of passion”

It would be good if we could "terminate with extreme prejudice"
these cowboys (another colloquialism).

I am always being shown jewellery that has been “repaired” and has
broken or does not fit/wear properly.

I send them to a Master Jeweller I know who has specialists to fix
such repairs.

At the School for Silversmiths we were told to not touch repairs
until we had 10 years on the bench.

Then try one and find out why it is a specialist job.

I long ago went for a job at a local jeweller, he asked me how to
repair filigree in a diamond ring, claw set stones. I louped it and
said take out the diamonds, repair the damaged claws and replace the
filigree/scrolls, reset the diamonds.

we don’t do all of that just replace the filigree, with the diamonds
in situ, was his reply.

i got up and walked out. crap artist.

all my jewellery comes with a guarantee. if you break it i fix it
for free.

i have had some amazing returns, i dropped it on the carpet and it

aka i dropped in the carport/garage and backed my 4wdrive over

all customers who i have had to repair my jewellery for come back to
buy again and again.

one lady who broke a heavy sterling bangle was amazed when i called
to see if the free repair was fine. never had such service!

i am of course her jeweler of choice now!!!

quality jewellery with quality service gives satisfied customers.

i however do not replace damaged stones for free, i charge wholesale
plus 20% for the new stone. plus setting fee.

On this point why do so many rings that have been resized break on
the solder join?

Mine don’t!

Solder line not clean? Metal not light tight? Or just a crap job?

Why do so many jewellers make most of their money from repairs?

Too much crap out there?


Xtines Jewels