As work progresses on the Iron Age treasure, found by metal detectorists Reg Mead and Richard Miles in 2012, Jersey Heritage staff and volunteers faced a tricky problem of how to deal with the delicate artefacts.
Using traditional equipment risked scratching the torques, which were buried in what is now known to be the world’s largest Celtic coin hoard, and using acid-cleaning could have erased essential organic material and other information related to the composition of the gold.
Neil Mahrer, Jersey Museum’s conservator, said that experts who had been working on a gold and silver hoard found in Staffordshire had recommended using thorns from the berberis plant.
‘These thorns are great because they are strong enough to flick off the corrosion, but soft enough so they won’t scratch the gold surface, so you can work without doing any damage,’ Mr Mahrer said.
‘If you use acid it will remove any trace of organic material and anything like that.’