Patina on Sterling Flatware

Welcome to the 43rd Metamorphosis Monday!

My Met Monday post this week is a little different…it’s about a “Before and After” that can’t really be created, but is instead best achieved with the passage of time. There are some ways to speed it up a bit, because the “After” is very desirable, but, you pretty much have to just be patient and go about the everyday business of living your life.  I’m talking about that elusive, mysterious quality called, patina.

Take a look at the pic below. The sterling flatware below is by Towle and the pattern is King Richard. Can you spot the two pieces of King Richard that are sporting a lovely patina? Capturing it in a photograph isn’t very easy, but I’m hoping you’ll be able to see it. Which pieces do you think have a nice patina?

What exactly is patina? A few years ago, I decided to add some additional pieces to my sterling flatware. The least expensive place to do that appeared to be on eBay. Buying individual pieces didn’t make much sense since I would have to pay shipping on each piece purchased. Plus, often the pieces I wanted to collect were being sold as part of much larger “sets,” so the only way to collect those pieces, like strawberry forks or demitasse spoons, was to buy the whole set and then sell the pieces I didn’t need. That’s when I really found out about this mysterious thing called, “patina.”

I’d heard that word many times over the years, but I never really understood what it was or how it looked…that was, until my first “old” pieces of sterling arrived in the mail. Once I saw these old pieces of silver, I “got it.” Not only did I “get it,” I was hooked! When I compared the silver flatware I already had to the pieces in some of the older sets I’d purchased on eBay, all my questions about patina were completely answered. However, it took me selling a few of the old pieces on eBay, followed by e-mails from those buyers begging to know if I had more, for me to realize those older pieces were the very ones I should be keeping. Not only were they more beautiful, apparently they were more valuable, as well.

What is patina?
Merriam-Webster online defines it this way…
1 a : a usually green film formed naturally on copper and bronze by long exposure or artificially (as by acids) and often valued aesthetically for its color b : a surface appearance of something grown beautiful especially with age or use
2 : an appearance or aura that is derived from association, habit, or established character

MSN Encarta’s definition is:
Surface sheen: a pleasing surface sheen that develops on an object with age or frequent handling says:
A surface appearance of something grown beautiful, especially with age or use, which adds value to an antique or collectible and should not be cleaned.

You can “hear” about patina all day long, but until you see it with your own eyes, it doesn’t really sink in. But, once you see it…you never forget it. It reminds me of the sheen of a rich satin fabric.

Take a look at the photo below. The flatware is in the exact same positions as in the above pic, I’ve just moved it all to another surface and added a stainless piece of flatware on the far right. Which two pieces of flatware seem to glow with a sheen and which four pieces look more like the Spode Woodland, stainless flatware fork on the end?

Did you guess the two pieces in the center? If you did, you are correct.

While “googling” about patina, I actually found websites giving advice on how you can give your sterling a look of patina. Frankly, there is no way I’d do any of the things those sites suggested.  Their techniques sounded very risky to me. Some things are just worth the wait.

So what’s the best way to speed up the patina process? It’s so easy, you won’t believe the answer. You USE your silver…EVERY DAY. Yes, you use it, wash it (never in the dishwasher) dry it, and occasionally if needed, very, very lightly give it a little polishing with a good silver polish like, Hagerty or Weiman Royal Sterling Silver Polish. I use Hagerty because that’s what the most respected silver shoppe in Atlanta uses. This is one of those places where the door is locked at all times, you have to be “rung” in…and an armed guard stands vigilant inside. I figure if they trust Hagerty with their sterling, it must be pretty good. I especially love the Hagerty spray because it easily gets down into the hard to reach areas. If you buy the spray, be sure to use it in a well ventilated area.

One of the biggest myths about sterling, at least from what I’ve found, is that it requires a lot of polishing. In the 30+ years I’ve been collecting sterling flatware, I’ve only lightly polished mine once very lightly. I’m guessing it’s because I keep it in a silver chest lined with a special fabric that  resist tarnish.  They really do work in keeping your silver in top-notch condition.  But the very best way to make sure you never have to polish your silverplate or sterling flatware is to use it…every day. Regular use and washing prevents accumulation of tarnish and speeds up that oft desired patina process.

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  1. tales from an oc cottage says

    Why doesn't that happen to us! Why can't we acquire a "patina"??! ;}

    m ^..^

  2. Susan,
    Thanks for your beautiful blog and for hosting all of us! Blessings to you…

  3. Susan,
    Thanks for your beautiful blog and for hosting all of us! Blessings to you…

  4. Its So Very Cheri says

    I goofed on my post #13. It's not spposed to have the letter O.

  5. ALVN of WhisperWood Cottage and Junkologie says

    Interesting post! I love patina, but I didn't know anything about silver. Thanks for the education! 🙂

  6. Marsha's Mpressions says

    very informative post!

  7. Paula Grace Designs says

    Congratulations to all the winners! Interesting post about patina ~ Thanks! Your pictures are always gorgeous. How do you do that?!!

  8. Congrats to all the winners~ How exciting.

    Thanks for hosting Susan. Patina is a good thing!

    Jane T.

  9. Paula Grace Designs says

    Oh yeah… my link today is before and after photos of a show house I did. I hope you enjoy it!!

  10. Jenny @ Words on Wendhurst says

    I think so many more things than just silver can acquire a patina! I love things that have been around for a while. 🙂

  11. santamaker says

    Very good post, Susan! Congrats to the winners. Thanks for being the bestest hostess!

  12. Julia @ Hooked on Houses says

    I won the wreath?! No kidding?! I'm so excited. I did a double-take when I saw my name up there. Thanks, Susan! That made my day. 🙂

  13. Hi Susan. Congrats to your winners. Oh, I have some patinaed silver, but I like it better on copper. Not that I have any, but I love to see copper that has turned the lovely green color. Oh, I'm going to say I have patina instead of wrinkles! 🙂
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia 😉

  14. nannykim at spindle cottage says

    an interesting post; thanks!

  15. Hi Susan…

    Congratulations to all the lucky winners! What a fabulous giveaway…thank you, Susan!

    Wow…I love the word patina! And your beautiful silver has a glorious patina that's for sure! I really enjoyed reading this, my friend…very informative! I have some beautiful old silver with that glorious patina that belonged to Russell's grandmother…I just can't bring myself to use it. After reading your post…I see that I need to do just that!

    Thank you for hosting Met Monday for us…I sure do appreciate you, Darlin'!

    Love ya,

  16. ~ ~ Ahrisha ~ ~ says

    Hi Susan~ ~

    Thanks for all this great info. I just this week posted about a few pieces of silver that I picked up recently and was looking for the best polish to use. When I get it cleaned up it is my intention to use it every day.
    Stop by and have a look at my prize. It's a simple pattern and will work well for everyday. Let me know what you think.
    ~ ~Ahrisha~ ~

  17. marty (A Stroll Thru Life) says

    Congratulations to all of the winners. I know they will be thrilled with such wonderful giveaways. Thanks also for the education on patina. Very interesting. Hugs, Marty

  18. Thanks so much for the fun giveaway and the interesting info on patina. Also, I linked twice (#39 & #41) on accident. I thought I could just edit #39 but nope…Oops! Sorry about that!!!

  19. Christi @ A Southern Life says

    Love the patina of old silver. I have inherited some very old silver that has that look and I love it. It is kept in tarnish resistant cloth. That is the best stuff!

    Christi @ A Southern Life

  20. Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions says

    Thanks so much, Susan, and congrats to the other winners, too! Love the pillow! I'll be emailing you after this comment.

    I learned something here; I thought when that happened to silver ware it was a bad thing. Always nice to learn something new!

  21. Dragonfly Treasure says

    Thanks for all the info on patina.
    Congrats to all the winners!!

  22. Isabella & Max Rooms says

    That wreath is sooooo beautiful! Congrats to all the winners.

    My post shows mostly befores from a project done today, taking afters tomorrow…take my word for it, the result is so pretty, I'm thrilled!!

    Thanks for hosting!! Janell

  23. Isabella & Max Rooms says

    That wreath is sooooo beautiful! Congrats to all the winners.

    My post shows mostly befores from a project done today, taking afters tomorrow…take my word for it, the result is so pretty, I'm thrilled!!

    Thanks for hosting!! Janell

  24. Isabella & Max Rooms says

    That wreath is sooooo beautiful! Congrats to all the winners.

    My post shows mostly befores from a project done today, taking afters tomorrow…take my word for it, the result is so pretty, I'm thrilled!!

    Thanks for hosting!! Janell

  25. Isabella & Max Rooms says

    That wreath is sooooo beautiful! Congrats to all the winners.

    My post shows mostly befores from a project done today, taking afters tomorrow…take my word for it, the result is so pretty, I'm thrilled!!

    Thanks for hosting!! Janell

  26. I guessed the middle ones!

    Thanks for allowing us to share our stories here. I love coming back and look forward to your holiday creations.

  27. Congrats to all the winners! I did guess correctly, the middle flatware.

  28. Julie Harward says

    Congratulations to the winners!
    I didn't know there was a spray..I've always used the polish, I'll have to get me some..thanks! Come say hi 😀

  29. laurie @ bargain hunting says

    Congratulations to the lucky winners! You have some beautiful silverware-patina or not. (I did guess correctly about the patina-don't I win a prize?) Can you believe I'm joining MM? This is my first time (but it is a tiny MM). Thanks fofr hosting. laurie

  30. inner_child says

    Love the patina, and the pattern. That is my pattern, picked it when I was twelve! Still loving it!
    Paula ~ Mise en scène

  31. Confessions of a Plate Addict says

    Hi Susan! Congrats to the winners of such gorgeous prizes! And I love your flatware! I have my mom's silver and love its patina! Happy week!…hugs…Debbie

  32. Mary Ellen (megardengal) says

    So glad I could join this week! Congratulation to all the blessed winners!!!

    I have very old silver plate and I love the patina on it also!


  33. Thank you for hosting Met Monday again and thank you for posting another fabulous read. I always learn so many things when I come to visit!
    Best wishes, Natasha.

  34. Velvet and Linen says

    We use our silver every day, but we have to polish it every week. I'm sure it's because we put it in the dish washer. My question to you is how do you sanitize your silver after use if you don't put it in the dish washer?
    Congratulations to the winners!


  35. Anita @ Far Above Rubies says

    Beautiful post!! I also just adore the patina silver gets. My flatware is over 100 years old and I'm really in love with it. I got some fish forks to go with it from, but they had been newly polished. They might as well be stainless because they do not have the patina of the old. I am also a FIRM believer in not putting it in the dishwasher. Thank you for this lovely silver lesson:-)

  36. Thanks for the lesson on "patina". I love the well-used sheen of older silver. Living near Silver Queen, (one of those stores which buys and sells sterling flatware) I love to stop in their store to go through the mismatched bins. I have found beautiful sugar tongs, an asparagus server, demitasse spoons, and more…all with a patina. I have paid no more than $10 for any of these pieces. This store uses Hagerty's, too.
    Jane (artfully graced)

  37. Fifi Flowers says

    Holiday items are showing up everywhere! Fab time of the year on its way!

  38. What beautiful silver! Your home and table settings are so lovely. I am looking forward to seeing more.

    Thanks for sharing!

  39. Diane @ Four Paws and Co says

    Your King Richard is so pretty & I guessed right – whooo hoooo! I hope you stopped selling the patinaed pieces!
    Yay! I won & I can't believe it! ☺

  40. Scooterblu's Whimsy~Rhonda says

    Beautiful flatware! I started collecting for a set off of ebay, but when silver went up last year, I had to postpone my purchases for awhile! 🙂 I didn't know the history or definition behind "patina". Very interesting!

    Thanks for hosting Met Monday! 🙂 ~hugs, Rhonda

  41. Congrats to all the blessed winners. I am keeping fingers and toes crossed for one of those beautiful lanterns. *sigh….
    Thanks so much for this lesson in patina…I enjoyed learning this very much.
    Hugs, bj

  42. black eyed susans kitchen says

    Susan, I picked out the pieces in the center immediately. There is something special, almost romantic about older pieces with a patina. I have a large collection of hammered aluminum (have shown it on my blog many times), and the oldest, handmade pieces with that patina of age and use are in my eyes the most interesting. If an antique is made to look brand new, it loses so much of its appeal. See you on Thursday.

  43. Enjoyed your post. I had never really "understood" patina and now I do! Thank you.

  44. Brenda @Cozy Little House says

    Yep, I'm not a youngster anymore. Why don't I have a patina? I wash every day. Well, this was very interesting. And once again you've taught me something I didn't know, Susan! You're remarkable that way!

  45. Kelee Katillac says

    I think we do acquire a "patina" lets just admire instead of disdain it…M….:):)

    Thanks for the great post susan!

    love, kelee

  46. alessandra says

    Thank you for hosting!

  47. Yay! I just posted my first Met Monday post. Love your blog. Thanks so much for the inspiration you provide.

    I, too, love the patina on my silver. You educated me today b/c I did not know exactly what patina was. Thanks for the info!

  48. Hi Susan! Happy Monday! Thanks so much for hosting the party again today. Interesting post. Patina does add that certain something, doesn't it? Have a good day…
    pk @ ROOM REMIX

  49. Sue (Someone's Mom) says

    I had silver flatware and several other items that I got for wedding gifts. I really didn't like it, and gave it to my mom who loves it. I'll have it back on of these days. Now, with Tablescape Thursday, I'm kicking myself. I've even picked up a few old pieces.


  50. Aprons Gone Wild says

    Hello Susan,
    I wanted to thank you for hosting Met Monday. I participated for the first time and it brought many new readers to my blog along with very nice comments from some of them.
    I adore your blog and the photos of your home. You're an inspiration.
    All the best,

  51. Another thing you have taught us. I wouldn't have know that either.
    Congrads to all the winners; what lovely gifts to have won.

  52. Susan, thanks for hosting the give away, and congratulations to all the winners. Patina is the essence of life! It's what draws me to all things old. There is nothing like a fine patina on wood as well as silver. I even appreciate the patina of age worn textiles. I find it so sad that much of the world lives as a through away society. Thanks for sharing this post on the joys of patina! ~ Sarah

  53. Blessedmom's Simple Home says

    You made me feel like I could actually spot something! I recognized the correct ones right away, I guess because I have my mom's and my grandmother's old silverware. They were definitely used. I tend to use mine for special occasions, thanks for the "regular use" info.

  54. Cass @ That Old House says

    Congrats to your lucky winners! 🙂

    It's always so exciting to win a giveaway. Thank you for making that possible for so many people!

    LOVE the silver — and I too love the patina of old silver. Old ANYTHING for that matter. (Well, not old tomatoes.)

    I have several friends who not only use their sterling every day, but put it in the dishwasher. They say if you don't use any lemon-scented or powdered products, you can do this — and their silver looks fabulous. Silverplate is too fragile, but sterling they say can take it. I'm not sure I'd chance it!

    Lovely informative post!

  55. Apparently I don't know the name of my own blog. 🙂

    So many wonderful before and afters, it will take a while to view all of them.

    Thanks for the opportunity to share mine.

  56. The Quintessential Magpie says

    Susan!!! Yea!!!!!!!!!! I won! I won! Doing the happy dance, and I love it! A very shiny object, indeed.

    Listen, something wasn't set properly on my computer when they worked on it, and I can't click and email. So is there any way for you to email me??? I will then send you my info! In the mean time, I will go back and see if I have an email address for you. Oh, I'm doing a happy dance!!!


    Sheila 🙂

  57. The Quintessential Magpie says

    P.S. I picked the correct silver. My mother used hers every day, but it also went down the garbage disposal on a quasi-regular basis. LOL! You should see some of the spoons…

  58. Yes, it is a good thing to use silver everyday — washing keeps it shiny — I don't use it as much as I should but my new European silver is now our EVERYDAY cutlery! It's not hard to wash a few pieces of flatware!

    I love the old silver as well and have many interesting serving pieces — they don't match but who cares!

  59. What?? I hadn't gotten here yet today. . . and tonight I discover that I'm one of the winners?? Are you kidding? This is the first giveaway I've EVER won! Oh boy!! I'm so excited, I can hardly stand it!

    Maybe I should take my pulse and settle down. . . I'll email you, Susan!

  60. The Summer Kitchen Girls says

    We are so ga-ga over silver lately…
    For parting favors for our progressive teas, we have given old silver spoons with our tea bags tied onto them – always a hit (we, too, often wonder if we should be holding onto these!)
    Happy Monday!

  61. Michelle Rayburn says

    I knew very little about this. Thanks for the detailed info!



    Always love to read your blog and get inspiration. Im actually participating in my first Mets Monday but hopefully not my last 🙂

  63. Carolyn @ My Backyard Eden says

    Beautiful silver! Thanks for the linkup!

  64. Congrats to all the lucky winners of your giveaway!! I'm GREEN with envy & I guess I'll just have to go out & buy my own wreath. 🙂

    I learned several things from your post, Susan & I always come away from your blog inspired, educated & in awe of your talent. Thank you for being such a gracious hostess & for sharing with us!

  65. I enjoyed learning about Patina. Very informative!! Thanks for all you do and all you share!! If you get a chance…stop on by for my Anniversary giveaway! Hugs!

  66. Mrs. B. Silly says

    Congrats to all of the winners, what a great giveaway!

  67. Just found your site through Angela's Peony Patch! I'm intrigued over this "patina" stuff. We have a whole box of silver that we received as a wedding gift years ago, but we never use it! I thought it was just too nice to use! But now that I think about it, this is stuff my grandma used everyday. I'll have to make note of the sheen before and after some use.
    I'm hosting an apron giveaway all this week, so check out my latest blog post for details!
    Kelli @ SustainingCreativity

  68. Beautious!!!

  69. I couldn’t see your BEFORE ADTER photos here. I don’t have a website so do I miss out?

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