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Plating coming off Silver

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    Plating coming off Silver

    I have tried to search for answers with no luck. I just bought a saddle package (used) and when cleaning with warm water the bridle (it's extremely yellow) the plating starting to come off. What can I do? What happens to the silver without the plating? So far I've only done the one ear piece so any thing to do going forward?

    I don't know what you can do. After the plating comes off you are left with whatever the base metal underneath is. Though are you sure it's really silver plating?


      It's not really silver. It's a plated alloy and there's not much you can do except live with it or replace it. Possibly have it replaced, but that's more costly than may be worth it, if you can find a complement company to do it.

      In plated 'silver' the base metal, usually nickel, is electrostatically charged and the actual plate layer adheres to the nickel. So the plate layer is very thin, and quite fragile. It will have some actual silver content but has other metals in it too, to stick to the nickel. Different manufacturers have different proprietary recipes for their plate, and they will contain a small percentage of silver, but it's not much.

      Once the plate begins to peel or loosen from the nickel, due to age, abrasion, a not-great plating job, or being cleaned with silver cleaner and other chemicals, there is not much you can do to slow or slop the peeling damage. Some plated ornaments also have shellac or other clear coats that can turn yellow with age and begin to peel as well.

      If you want actual traditional silver, look for hallmark stamps on the back of the pieces. Something like 'Alpaca' or Montana silver are alloys (as described above) but if it's marked sterling (rare these days unless it's vintage silver) or overlay, you're getting either a solid layer of sterling silver, or a thick layer of sterling adhered to a nickel backing, respectively.

      Usually the easiest way to tell if the silver is, in fact, silver, is by price. Sterling and sterling overlay are costly, and they also engrave much nicer than plate because the thick silver carves beautifully with a skilled engraver's flowing cuts into the metal.

      Plated pieces are usually stamped then plated, so the engraving is much flatter and has fewer intricate cuts.


        Don't know how you will use the bridle, but if it is "just for show" and not for daily use, you can buy silver (looking) paint at Hobby Lobby and with a small brush touch up your silver. My kids/grandkids showed in 4-H on a small budget. We did polish the metal on everything before the two or three shows they did each year where it mattered (Pleasure, Horsemanship), but when the plating came off, we painted the piece with "Chrome" paint that comes in small containers for exactly that --touching up metal. Model builders use it on their trains and planes.

        I even used it on my horse trailer! My trailer is 16 years old. One of the members of the hunt club said, "It's too bad the bolts have rusted on your trailer doors, makes it look old." --but my husband is a classic car guy and he'd helped me detail out the trailer ---the paint, wheels, trim, diamond plate all looked brand new (or better). it was just these bolts (the tops) that were "rusty" -or discolored. I took my mineral spirits and cleaned them off thoroughly, then took my wee brush and touched the "chrome" paint to each one. Suddenly they looked brand new! It's been 4 years and I haven't had to re do them.

        So try a little paint --might not hold up, but then it might be just enough to get you by. Oh --FYI if you want to disassemble your bridle, there are spray paints that do the same thing ---but I've never used them. Don't know if they would be better -- I do spray paint the chains on my trailer (yeah, I know, obsessed) so they look new --can't say they DO look new, but they sure look better than rusted.


          Original Poster

          Thanks everyone. It’s a circle y set. I noticed on their website they say they use sterling silver with a protecting coat fo stop tarnishing. I’m hoping I don’t have to buy a new one considering I just bought this set yesterday and never noticed till I brought it home from a very thorough clean


            Sterling should not be damaged by water! Be aware, however, that as a long time show mom and grandma --if we had a saddle or bridle with "really nice" silver on it, we would sometimes replace the sterling silver with a less costly similar ornament when we sold it. Then we would continue to use the sterling on a subsequent piece of tack that had damaged or came without. It is possible the seller did the same, or maybe didn't realize someone had done that before the saddle was his or hers. We always mentioned the saddle had its silver replaced --but buyer beware --especially on-line!


              Original Poster

              Thanks!! I believe it’s the original silver as the silver on the saddle is spotless and it matches the same pattern of breast collar and headstall


                I have a bridle that the silver plating has come off of. I just have to clean it a bit more often.


                  Original Poster

                  Originally posted by Tee View Post
                  I have a bridle that the silver plating has come off of. I just have to clean it a bit more often.
                  that's what I was hoping all that would happen! I don't mind having to clean it more often. I was just worried it may be ruined. Thanks for letting me know!!!!


                    If it is real solid silver it will tarnish but it will never peel. And polishing will take the tarnish off.

                    You might consider taking the piece past a jewelry store that does repairs. They could identify the metals and the process for you and whether all the silver on your gear is likely to fail.. I mean a little independent store with a knowledgeable owner, not a mall Engagement Rings R Us chain store.


                      If it's actually sterling silver then you have probably just removed the protective coating. I agree with having a jeweler or someone else who would know examine it to see what's going on. If it's just losing the coating, you should be able to polish it up and then re-coat it with something. I use DuraCoat on firearms and motorcycle parts and it's practically indestructible. You could use regular clear Krylon or the like but it wouldn't last very long. On the other hand, it's cheap and you could re-do it as often as needed.