There's a reason treasure chests are always filled with gold: precious metals are valuable, and maintain that value through market fluctuations. They frequently have sentimental value as well, whether you have gold, silver, or bronze medals you've won or you need to store sterling silver dinnerware until a fancy occasion arises. It's important to learn all you can about precious metal storage—here are the top tips on how to store your bronze, silver, and gold like a champion.
Questions around bronze storage usually involve how to keep bronze shiny. After all, nobody wants to find tarnished bronze when they unwrap their possessions after some time in storage. Providing a good storage environment is the first line of defense in preserving bronze artifacts.
According to The Henry Ford organization, bronze should be stored in an area with an even, low humidity, ideally below 55% relative humidity (RH). Rapidly fluctuating temperatures can cause the coating of bronze artifacts to fail as the metal expands and contracts. To prevent this, store bronze in an environment where the temperature can be maintained for a long period of time. Such an environment is difficult to ensure in most homes, but basements, attics, and garages are generally the worst places to store bronze objects.
You can further protect your bronze by storing it on shelves padded with inert foam such as Ethafoam to prevent dust accumulation. Drape plastic or cloth curtains around the shelves as added protection, but refrain from placing bronze objects into sealed plastic bags. The danger of condensation on the metal outweighs the benefit of dust protection.
Silver is one of the most common precious metals, found in everything from coins, to trophies, to sterling silver dinnerware. Like bronze, many owners wonder how to keep sterling silver from tarnishing. Also like bronze, silver should be stored in areas that are not humid and do not experience drastic heat fluctuations. A drawer in a hutch or a china cabinet is a great place for storing silverware and also keeps it handy for special occasions.
If you want to keep your silver out of sight, you can wrap it in acid-free archival quality tissue paper to reduce the amount of tarnish. (Avoid storing your silver in newspaper or acidic paper because the ink or acid can cause corrosion and damage.) Or, you can store silver objects in flannel bags or chests lined with treated flannel cloths to help slow tarnishing.
Make sure you refrain from using rubber bands on your silver objects. The rubber contains sulfur, which can cause excessive tarnishing. Learning how to store silver can help reduce the effects of tarnish and keep your utensils, medals, or jewelry looking bright and beautiful for years to come.
We probably don't need to tell you that gold is the most valuable of the precious metals. Whether you're storing jewelry or are wondering how to store gold bars (officially called "bullion"), many of the best tips are similar to bronze and silver.
Gold should be stored in an area that is protected against high humidity and fluctuating temperatures. A lock-enabled jewelry box or a safe are both great investments for storing and protecting jewelry and other small gold valuables. Safety deposit boxes are also a popular option for storing metals like gold. Ensure you keep jewelry and other small gold items separate from one another to prevent dents or scratches. You can use archival quality tissue paper or soft cloth bags for this purpose.
When storing gold or silver coins, it’s important to choose the right place and the right storage method. A closet shelf, for example, may not be able to handle the weight of coins, while under the bed may result in dusty coins. A wall or floor safe is a smart option, but fireproof safes may contain chemicals that could damage your coins. If you are an avid coin collector, the best way to store coins is to use inert plastic coin cases, which offer the best possible protection. Simply storing coins in a cup or a box could cause dings or nicks, resulting in decreased value. For more information on additional ways you can store coins, Numismaster ranks your options from the best to the least successful options.