Jewelry Polishing Kit

By on August 11, 2014
Print Friendly

by Judy Ellis, Wire-Sculpture.com

Tool of the Week for August 11, 2014

This week’s Featured Tool is the Jewlery Polishing Kit

Get that smooth polished “tumbler finish” on your silver jewelry, stones, gemstones and more with our rock and gemstone polishing jewelry tumblers. These jewelry tumblers are ideal for home jewelers, rock collectors, children or grandchildren who like to discover and polish stones.

Today I thought we’d revisit what a Tumbler does and some of its functions. We get a lot of questions about how and when to use a tumbler, so I’ve grabbed a few suggestions from another Tip on our Blog and I thought I’d share them with you.

What is a Tumbler?

There are two types of tumblers available: a rotating tumbler and a vibratory tumbler. They each serve a basic need for anyone working with rough stones that want to achieve a more finished product for use in their jewelry creations.

Tumbler Model 45C

Lortone Rotary Tumbler for Jewelry or Rocks

In a rotating tumbler, you have a rubber drum or barrel that is filled with different levels of polishing medium, water and the stones that you want to “tumble”. In this case, the rocks continuously fall over each other, polishing slowly, much in the same way tumbling waves from the ocean polish sea glass and stones.

And, like the action of the waves, it takes a lot of time to polish stones from the rough to a highly polished stage. It is not unusual to take two weeks to a month or more to tumble a batch of stones to the desired finish.

The advantage of using a rotating tumbler is the fact that it will reshape natural rough material, reducing and rounding any angular points on the material.

The vibrating tumblers don’t actually “tumble” but rather they agitate side to side at a high rate, creating a moving action that carries the polish over and between the stones in it.

When to use a Tumbler:

So how does this work for your jewelry? And what do you have to use to achieve the results you want? By tumbling your jewelry, three things are accomplished.:

  • First, it cleans your work, removing dirt and any oils that have accumulated on your stones and/or wire.
  • Second, it is lightly polishing the metal in your pieces by using stainless steel shot that will burnish, or polish the metal.
  • And third, by leaving the piece in the tumbler long enough, the metal or wire becomes what is referred to as “work-hardened”. (I believe this last step applies mostly to those of you who work in dead soft wire and need this added step to harden the wire.)

What’s included in our Jewelry Polishing Kit?

For the beginner or the professional, this tumbler is the ideal tumbler for the home jeweler or lapidary. It has a 3lb capacity with one rubber barrel. Does a quality job of hardening wire and brings a professional finish to gold and silver wire jewelry. Can also be used to tumble polish rough gem material. Perfect size for the home jeweler short on space.

Jewlery Polishing Kit
Measurements are 5.75 x 9.5″ and weighs 5 lb. The Lortone 3A Barrel measures 4 3/4″ tall, with a 4 1/2″ diameter (approx 12cm by 11.5cm).Kit includes the following items:

Pick up your Jewelry Polishing Kit today and complete your jewelry toolbox!

Happy Wrapping!

Click to Receive Daily Tips by Email

12 Comments

  1. avatar

    Jeanne

    August 11, 2014 at 7:53 am

    I have a tumbler w/ stainless steel shot but have only used it once for tumbling my finished wire wrapped cabs to harden the wire. It was a disaster… turned the silver dull and my Larkvite & Rhodocrosite cabs were also dulled and slightly marred. I know you’re not suppose to tumble pearls but is there a list of stones that should not be tumbled or do you think something might be wrong with my shot or tumbler?

    • avatar

      Michele

      November 6, 2014 at 7:03 am

      What brand of tumbler do you have? Some barrels aren’t made of quality materials and can shed “yuck” on your jewelry. You can try running it with just the shot and some FLAT coke for about three hours, then rinsing your shot well and tumbling your jewelry with the regular polishing agent.

      Also,as Janice Fingado mentioned, tumbling cabs is not a great idea. The tumbling medium for stones is different than the medium for metal. Good luck!

  2. avatar

    Janice Fingado

    August 11, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    Don’t ever put any polished cabs in with SS shot: too dangerous to the finish of the stones. Instead do your wire wrap to the point where you have pulled and twisted your bottom strip of 22g sq half-hard wire frame over the bottom of your stone and shaped it to hold it on the bottom, then remove the stone, put the wire wrap in the tumbler with the shot and run it for about an hour. That should polish the wire nicely and give a good (permanent) bounce to the wires, hardening them. Put the cab back in and then with your square nose pliers, grab the top wire of your frame and give it a twist as you also pull up on it and fit it over the TOP of your cab. That should hold the cab tightly in place, but you might have to go over the “holding” wires, top and bottom, and make minor adjustments. As for turning your silver dark, that might be caused by microscopic specks from the stones as they got chipped, which caused a reaction with the silver. That is why it is best to do the metal wire by itself in the tumbler. Clean the shot again with a good detergent, dry it completely, and try the tumbler and shot with some scrap silver and see if it works.

  3. avatar

    Carol Roskey

    August 12, 2014 at 5:40 pm

    I have the tumbler described above and it does great on polishing metal or polishing stones but not together. The stones take two or more weeks depending on how much preparation I’ve done on them. Usually you can get a good finish on metal in an hour. If your shot is dirty, your jewelry will look worse than when you put it in. I also don’t polish the jewelry in the same barrel that I polish rocks in.

  4. avatar

    Judi MStar

    October 26, 2014 at 6:47 am

    How noisy are these tumblers? I’ve thought about getting one but suspect they make a lot of noise.
    Thanks for any info.
    Judi

    • avatar

      Michele

      November 6, 2014 at 6:52 am

      Hi Judi. The tumblers do make some noise but I run mine in the bathroom on a folded towel. Since it only runs about an hour I don’t even notice it.

      • avatar

        Dave

        March 6, 2015 at 12:29 pm

        Judi, The vibrating tumbler makes A LOT of noise–Even when it was placed on a double thickness of braided rug, covered with a quilt (this is not advisable because the unit can get hot with prolonged running and create a fire hazard)and placed in a room with a closed door, it can still be heard.
        Michele, What brand of tumbler are you using that you only have to run it for an hour? It would seem that only running a tumbler for that short of time, it would take an eon to polish any stones.

  5. avatar

    Brandi Bobb

    October 31, 2014 at 2:42 am

    I have made a few chains from my silver wire and wondered if it could be tumbled for a finishing clean/polish but I’m nervous that it won’t end well. I’d hate to lose a piece I’ve spent a great deal of time on. Any thoughts on this?

    • avatar

      Michele

      November 6, 2014 at 6:56 am

      Hi Brandi,

      I tumble chains all the time! Make sure they are securely fastened and you should have no trouble. I wouldn’t tumble them with anything that could catch and pull on them, but in shot with other chains should be fine.

  6. avatar

    Judy Bjorkman

    October 24, 2015 at 5:57 am

    In 1999, an article of mine on tumble-polishing jewelry was published in Lapidary Journal. If you Google “Judy Bjorkman tumble polishing,” you should find the whole article. I’m still using my old Cerambits as the polishing medium, although the pieces are gradually getting smaller and smaller. I have the stainless steel shot, but it is much heavier (too much, and the tumbler won’t turn). Anyhow, tumble-polishing jewelry is a great way to do it! It’s clean, not too noisy, and you can make more jewelry while the polishing is going on.

  7. avatar

    Pam

    December 11, 2015 at 7:35 am

    Can a tumbler be used in the liver of sulfur patina process (instead of using something like steel wool)? If so, what is the process? Thanks for your help!

  8. avatar

    Renee

    August 25, 2016 at 5:33 pm

    I have a TON of metal beads and findings that I have purchased over the years and before realizing I should keep them sealed I had them in open bins for awhile and now I have a big “inventory” of basically useless metal beads and findings. They are not silver or gold filled, they are just beads and findings from, yes, overseas…lol. Would a tumbler remove all the tarnish on these beads and findings or do I just need to toss them. I look forward to any advise you can share with me. Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>