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Backyard Treasure Hunting

turqbraceletWhen we lived in Houston – we were in the antique business. So when we moved to the country – of course, we went looking for a place to have a booth . . . or as some dear friends call it ‘a stall’. We found a great place in Centerville – Country Memories – and have a small space there. We don’t work at it as hard as we did in Houston – but still enjoy dabbling in antiques.

Had decided to take some things in on Wednesday so over the weekend went ‘shopping’ in the garage. Was delighted to find the silver and turquoise bracelet pictured. It appears to be handmade and set with turquoise inlay. It was black when I found it so I did a delicate cleaning job on it. Just enough to clean the silver but not damage the inlay.

I used some jewelry cleaning paste that is not harsh but had it been completely silver – no inlay or other stones – I would have used my quick-fix cleaning method that works like a charm every time. Uses only boiling water, baking soda and aluminum foil.

If you have any silver – plate or sterling – give it a try. I do not recommend using this method on any item – jewelry or anything else that has other components like bone, wood, or is set with stones, pearls, etc. I also recommend testing this method first before using on something that is expensive or has significant sentimental value. And, if you have any doubts or concerns about it causing damage – don’t use it. I’ve never had any trouble but I’m very selective about what I ‘boil’.

First get a container (glass, corning ware, or aluminum) that is large enough to accommodate the item to be cleaned. Place a piece of aluminum foil in the bottom of the container – large enough to cover the bottom and go up the sides a bit. On the stove, bring enough water to boil that will submerge the item. Place the item to be cleaned into the container so that is is on top of the aluminum foil. (If you are cleaning more than 1 item, ie., silverware – do not allow the items to touch.)

Slowly pour the boiling water over the item. Sprinkle a minimum of 1 tablespoon of baking soda over the item. It will foam up so be sure you have enough room in the container to allow for foaming and that you are working in an area that cannot be damaged if the foam over flows. You can make a judgement call on how much baking soda to put into the water. If the item is large – use more. You can’t put in too much. The most I’ve ever used was 4-5 heaping tablespoons to clean a large silver-plated teapot.

You will probably notice a mild sulphur smell caused by the chemical reaction. This is normal. Let the item sit in the ‘baking soda water’ until the water is cool or you can remove the item comfortably. Once the item is removed, rinse it with cool water and dry with a soft cloth. If the item needs additional polishing – use a mild commercial polish. This will make it look shiney and you won’t wear your arm out rubbing since the majority of the tarnish will be gone.  

For more useful information on the cleaning, care and identifying of antiques visit the Texas Antique Mall Compendium.

3 comments to Backyard Treasure Hunting

  • jerry

    I enjoyed all your page and all your bloggin. Do you believe in that acaia berry pill. I ordered some last year and never took them – I think Jack poo pood them – not dangerous just poo poo–you know him, the old fashioned man. What do you think??Jerry

  • janmon

    Hi Jerry,

    Glad you enjoy the blog. I really don’t know much about the acaia berry – we take lots of vitamins and supplements but have not heard of that one. Sooooo – I checked it out on the Internet and found lots of conflicting information … some said it was good – others reported side effects. And it would seem it is good for everything from weight loss to sex! Woohoo!! This is the link to the info on the Wiki which gives a very good overview of the berry. You may want to take a look see at Wiki Article . . . . See you soon! Jan