thrifty find: finnish kupittaan kulta silver ring
Just after Christmas I was out in Hamilton, ON visiting some dear friends, and before arriving I had a few minutes to spare and thought I’d quickly pop into the Bibles for Missions thrift store location on the ‘Mountain’. I’d not been to this location before, and despite the quick tour of the store, I happened upon my new favourite piece of jewellery.
The price tag included a notation of ‘925 silver’ so despite the original state of being almost black in colour from tarnish, I knew it wasn’t simply a piece of costume jewellery. I was drawn to the boldly geometric, architecturally structured design and could just barely make out the word ‘Finland’ in the markings. So figured at $10 it was worth picking up this vintage ring to see if I could clean it up.
And clean it up I did to uncover a beauty that, through research, I’ve learned is from the Finnish jewellery company of Kupittaan Kulta. This company was started in 1945 by renowned designer and well-trained silver-smith and engraver Elis Kauppi. Kupittaan Kulta pieces are usually marked with an anvil symbol, which my ‘new’ ring sports. I couldn’t find reference to this particular design, but from similar rings I figure it is from the 1960s or 70s and might retail at about $150.
I was so eager to disrobe this beauty from its coat of tarnish that I neglected to photograph the transformation from a dark before to a sparkling after. To almost instantly clean the tarnish away, I placed the ring on a piece of aluminum foil in a glass (non-reactive) bowl, sprinkled baking soda over the ring, and then poured enough boiling water in the bowl to cover the ring. And then literally within seconds the majority of the tarnish was removed. A quick final polish with my Oneida silver polishing cloth, and my ring was shining again.
To help illustrate the cleaning technique, here are photos of 925 silver tongs I’d not polished in some time, revealing that this method is not only instant but quite effective (further polishing with the cloth and some silver polish and a brush for the nooks and crannies will complete the job). I find it quite incredible that the ring was dramatically darker than these tongs yet this method did the trick. The key is to ensure that the silver piece is in contact with the aluminum foil, and completely immersed in the water. This homemade technique of tarnish removal works with most silver pieces, just be cautious with jewellery that has soft or porous stones and gems – a more gentle technique is recommended.