I was at my friend's recently helping her get the house ready for a party she was throwing. We tried different tablecloths on the table, compared various combinations of plates (chargers, dinner and salad) and pulled out all of her cloth napkins to find the pattern that worked the best. It was really fun and when you have a friend to talk it over with, design decisions are easy.
When we pulled out the bottles of wine and sparkling water to chill, she said she was disappointed that she hadn't had time to shine her silver footed punch bowl. She thought it would have looked neat filled with ice and all the different bottles. When I saw that it was such a beautiful piece, I convinced her to use it anyway (it became a wonderful addition to the bar) and cited my silver ice bucket above as an example of the beauty of old silver.
I told her that since my ice bucket was an antique that had gone without being polished or care for for years, it had acquired a unique patina, along with delicate scarring and a grey haze in some areas, that I simply couldn't buff off. But it is beautiful! And I think that the fact that it looks like an antique makes it even better. If we wait until our silver pieces are perfectly shined, we may never use them at all. The next time you are ruling out a silver vase or tray because you don't have the time or energy to shine it, ask yourself if it doesn't look a little bit beautiful with a patina. You might just see it in a new light.