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Nickel Versus Silver Plating

Nickel Versus Silver Plating

Nickel versus silver plating – the difference

You might have noticed most of our trophy cups are nickel plated rather than silver plated. Quite likely you’re wondering which is the best choice. We’ve done some research ourselves that we’ll share with you in this article.

Nickel plated trophy cups are more robust

A nickel plated trophy cup does not tarnish like silver trophy cups. They are less susceptible to the effects of exposure to the air which causes dullness and discolouration. This means they require less cleaning and maintenance.

Silver plated trophy cups are a traditional choice

For many years silver plated cups have been the popular choice. People like to stick with tradition. It’s part of human nature.  In the past, manufacturers made trophy cups with a thicker silver coating which could withstand many polishes. However, today trophy cups are much cheaper which has led to some manufacturers taking shortcuts.  Many only have a thin layer of silver plating which is not immediately obvious. However, it will become obvious when the plating wears through with overpolishing with harsh products. This has led to nickel plated cups being more popular.

Do silver plated and nickel plated trophy cups look different?

As you can see from the picture – no they don’t. The trophy cup on the left is nickel plated, while the other cup is silver plated. However, these are new trophy cups. Over time they will look different. The silver plated trophy cup will become tarnished when it is exposed to moisture. But once it is polished with trusted cleaning methods it will be restored to it’s original shine. The nickel plated trophy cup won’t tarnish and can be easily wiped with a cloth. No need to worry about using silver polish.

How can I tell if the trophy cup is nickel or silver plated?

It will not be immediately obvious if your trophy cup is silver or nickel plated. However, over time the silver plated trophy cup will tarnish if exposed to moisture while the nickel plated trophy cup will stay nice and shiny. Normally when you buy a new trophy cup, the seller should be able to tell you if it is nickel or silver plated. We have put our silver plated trophy cups and nickel plated trophy cups in separate categories so that you can make an informed choice.

Conclusion – it all depends on personal preference

The decision to buy a nickel plated or silver plated trophy cup is entirely up to you. If you like the traditional silver trophy cup which has been the tradition for centuries then that is what you should buy. 
Nickel plated trophy cups will save you a lot of work when it comes to cleaning and polishing. They are also the best choice for damp environments that cause silver to tarnish quickly.

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Can Silver Plating Wear Off?

Can Silver Plating Wear Off

Yes silver plating can wear off. Some people will have had the experience of seeing silverware that has worn through. Others might not even realise it’s possible. Or else they don’t realise that the brassy colour showing through is the metal that was once covered by the silver plating.

Why does silver plating wear off?

Because trophy engraving is our main line of work, we see a wide range of silver trophy cups in various conditions. Some are only a few years old and the silver has worn through. We also see trophy cups that are very old and the silver hasn’t worn through at all. So we’ve done a bit of research to find out just why this happens. The silver plating can wear through on trophy cups for a number of reasons.

Firstly, don’t use toothpaste or any novel cleaning ideas

When doing research to find you the best cleaning methods we came across some shocking recommendations. For example, this blog about cleaning silver with household solutions such as ketchup or toothpaste shows just how misinformed some people can be. Tests like this don’t take into account the long term effects. They only go by the present results.

You’ve tried some novel idea and think you’ve got stunning results

You might have used toothpaste to clean your silver and not had any problem. So you’re wondering what the fuss is all about. But toothpaste can contain grit and abrasive substances that will wear the silver down over time. Each time you clean your silver using these novel methods you will be removing a small amount of the silver plating. Spare a thought for future winners. They will still want the silver plating on the trophy cup when their turn comes around.

Only use cleaning formulas that are made for the purpose

Keep the toothpaste for teeth. That’s what it was made for. The toothpaste manufacturers never intended their product to be used for cleaning silver. Therefore it has not been formulated with silver in mind. Silver cleaning products such as Goddard’s or Hagerty’s cleaners and polishes have been tested and developed over many years especially with silver in mind.

Cheap trophy cups have a fairly thin layer of silver plating

We often see trophy cups coming in to be engraved that have the silver worn through when they are only a few years old. It makes you wonder how they have deteriorated in such a short time. Even if they do have a thin layer they should last longer. We now believe those cups are the victim of cheap or novel cleaning methods such as toothpaste.

Trophy cups were made with a thicker layer of plating in early days

We’ve engraved a few cups that date back to the 1930’s that are in better condition than the ones that are only about 10 years old. In the early days trophies couldn’t be acquired so cheaply like they can today. They were made to high standards and built to last. Many of these older trophies would have come from England where only the best is acceptable.

Silver plating can be redone

If you’ve been unlucky enough to wear the silver through with harsh cleaning methods they can be replated. Professional electroplaters like Progressive Polishers and Electroplaters will replate your trophy cups with a heavy and durable thickness of 20 microns of pure silver. However, it is quite an expensive process that you’d probably only use for trophy cups of great value.


Finally, the best advice we can give you is to only use tested and proven cleaning methods. With proper care you should be able to make the silver plating last longer. Fortunately there are expert electroplaters available to restore your valued trophy cups if they’ve been the victim of misinformed cleaning methods.

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How To Clean Trophy Cups

How To Clean Trophy Cups, Trophy Cup Cleaning


How to clean trophy cups.

Many of our customers have asked us how to clean trophy cups. It may seem a silly question but using the proper cleaning methods is extremely important. Sadly some have been over polished with harsh formulas and the silver coating has worn off. Therefore we’ve done some research so that we can help you care for your trophy cups using the right methods and products.

Why does silver become tarnished?

Humid conditions and exposure to the air for long periods it will cause silver to tarnish quickly. We keep our trophy cups packaged in tissue paper and plastic until we sell them. However, most people will want to show their trophy cups off. It is best to display your trophies in a glass cabinet. Putting a little bit of silica gel in the cabinet will help to reduce moisture levels.

How to keep silver trophy cups clean and shiny

Unfortunately there is no magic solution to keeping your trophy cups untarnished. But fortunately there are some wonderful products specially designed to restore them to a beautiful shine.  We recommend Goddard’s or Hagerty’s Silver polishing formulas. They contain a tarnish resistant barrier so you won’t need to polish so often.

Use silver polishing cloths instead of polishing formulas

It is important not to use silver polishing agents too often as they can wear through the silver coating. The tarnishing can usually be removed with a special silver polishing cloth. These cloths are specially designed to gently polish your silver without the need of harsh polishing agents.

Only use polishing formulas as a last resort

Some trophy cups can be so badly tarnished that they need a silver polishing formula. It is best to use the silver polishing cloth first. Then use a specially formulated silver polishing liquid for the stubborn areas.

Use a separate cloth for polishing formulas

Obviously, you won’t want to use your special silver polishing cloth to apply silver polish. You should have 2 polishing cloths for cleaning your trophy cups. Keep your silver polishing cloth especially for silver that doesn’t need any extra treatment with polishing formulas. Any soft cloth will do for applying polishing formulas.

What to do if the silver has worn off

Trophy cups can be restored by professional electroplaters like Progressive Polishers and Electroplaters They will replate your trophy cups with a heavy and durable thickness of 20 microns of pure silver. However, it is quite an expensive process that you’d probably only use for high value trophy cups. Therefore it is best to prevent the need for replating by using reliable trophy cup cleaning methods.

Nickel plated trophy cups

Today most cups are made with nickel plating rather than silver plating. They look just like silver cups but they don’t tarnish. All they need is a wipe clean with a cloth. Nickel plated cups are a good choice if you don’t want to spend ages cleaning them.


The life of your trophy cups all depends on using trusted cleaning methods and the right formulas. If you’ve been unlucky enough to wear through the silver plating it’s not the end of the world. There is a solution… at a price![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_separator color=”mulled_wine” style=”shadow” border_width=”8″][/vc_column][/vc_row]