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Daily Wire Tip July 14: What Stones Can Be Tumbled?
Daily Wire Jewelry Making Tip for
July 14, 2011
I’ve tried several sites for this question, and can’t get a straight answer, just generalities. I have a tumbler, wet, and I need to know what I cannot put in it. I know shell and pearl are out, but I also know there are others that can’t be tumbled, can you tell us please.
By the way, I’m getting an ionic cleaner, and it doesn’t specify if it cleans brass and copper just gold and silver. Will it clean oxidation off any metal? Thank you so very much.
-Linda in Sherman, Texas
Hi Linda, I would like to try to make this easier for you to figure out. When you think about putting certain stones into a tumbler, take the hardness into consideration. For example, how well do you think a stone like natural turquoise (Mohs hardness of about 4) would hold up while being tumbled around in water and steel shot before it would deteriorate? (You can find the hardness of about any stone regularly used in jewelry making by typing its name into the search box of Wikipedia).
I can tell you specifically not to put the following stones into a tumbler without experimentation on a bead or small sample first: malachite, azurite, turquoise, opal, pearl, or fluorite. Now think about the shape of a bead with relation to its harness. If you were to put faceted fluorite beads into a tumbler with water and steel shot, the facets would wear away quickly, as well as the polish. When I set up a tumbler for rocks, I have to make sure that all of the material I put into the tumbler in one batch are of similar hardness. I cannot put a piece of soft malachite in with harder agates or jaspers. So, although this is basic answer, the hardness of the material depends on whether or not it can be tumbled while in a piece of jewelry or not, or for how long.
As for using an ionic cleaner on different metals, several members of the WS Faculty and I have been using an ionic cleaner on every type of jewelry making wire, for many years, with complete success! These metals include: sterling silver, Argentium® silver, 14/20 gold filled, copper, and brass.
Answer contributed by Dale "Cougar" Armstrong
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