Daily Wire Tip Nov. 26: Red Rouge

By on November 26, 2009
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Daily Wire Jewelry Making Tip


Question:

Why should I use, and what is the proper way to use, “red rouge”?

Answer:

Personally I do not use red rouge, but I know a lot of folks who do and I have my own ‘expert’ right here so: Red rouge (also known as jeweler’s rouge) is a very fine powdered, ferric oxide (iron) that can be purchased as a powder, a paste or in a bar or peel-away tube form (combined with wax or grease). It is also present in certain polishing cloths.

Red rouge is an extremely fine compound that is used to put a final polish on silver, copper, brass, gold, and platinum metals as it will not scratch or remove any of the metal while being used.

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For assistance with this answer, I went to my own ‘in-house lapidary’/boilermaker husband Charlie who says: “If you want to use red rouge to polish jewelry, you need to use it with a power tool such as a dremel or a polishing machine (with a dust collector and hood) equipped with a buffing wheel made of  felt, muslin or flannel, and the ideal speed of the tool used is about 5000 rpm. (Never use a buff for more than one compound and keep each buff clean and separate from others by storing in a plastic bag, labeled with what compound it is impregnated with, as well as what metal it is used on.) Always wear eye protection and work in an area with really good ventilation, better yet wear a respirator!

The rouge is sparingly applied to the wheel while it is running slowly and then, using light pressure, begin polishing your piece. Be careful going around your stones and beads and when you are finished, use a soft, clean cloth to remove any residual rouge.”

Answer contributed by Dale “Cougar” Armstrong

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7 Comments

  1. avatar

    Terry

    November 26, 2009 at 9:56 am

    If you don’t use the red rouge how or what do you do to get the final polish.

  2. avatar

    Pauline

    November 26, 2009 at 11:28 am

    If you don’t use rouge, what is your method for polishing silver.

  3. avatar

    Debbie

    November 26, 2009 at 5:46 pm

    Regarding red rouge, I understand the impact of a beautifully polished piece, but does rouge protect, prevent or retard TARNISHING? I polish my wire as I go and touch up with polishing cloth when needed. Everything I’ve read about using rouge seems like super messy overkill, unless there is an additional benefit. I run out of energy quickly, due to spinal cord issues, so I have to manage my time and exertion carefully.
    Thank you for your advice! Deb
    P.S. I am a big fan. I have 3 DVD’s of yours done before you joined this site. (‘was so glad I found you! You are delightful.) Of everything I’ve seen on the web or otherwise, Your instruction is far superior teaching, technique, design, etc. I appreciate your attention to every detail and willingness to share that knowledge. I could never afford the Wired Retreat, but I hope to make and sell enough jewelry to start getting your new DVD’s. I strive to make pieces that will last and not break, making “tomorrow’s heirlooms, today”, and am so grateful for your assistance in pursuit of my dream. Many thanks and blessings to you.

  4. avatar

    Margaret Bubner

    November 26, 2009 at 6:16 pm

    Hi Dale,

    Please can you let me know what you use to polish jewelry

    something you can take to a fair :-)

    I really enjoy your tips , they have been very helpful

    many thanks

    Margaret

    • avatar

      dalecgr

      November 27, 2009 at 9:09 am

      To all of the folks who want to know how I personally ‘polish’ my finished jewelry, thanks for asking! I do not use red or any other type of rouge or other messy procedure. Rather I use a polishing cloth as I work and then I use the Speed Brite ionic cleaner on everything (except on ivory or scrimshaw pieces). My final step is to use a product called Midas Tarnish Shield (which can be found by Googling the product name). Yes care is needed when using this product, such as adequate ventilation and yes I use a portion at a time in a large plastic container that has a cover which I keep my used product in and reuse it for a quite a few times (until it gathers crud in the bottom of the solution) and then discard it. Do not pour the discarded solution down your drain, and use a pair of old pliers or tweezers when removing an item from the solution and holding it under running water to rinse, and then place the newly coated item on a flat, absorbent surface like a piece of thick industrial felt to ‘air dry’, as the coating will take on finger prints if touched before it dries. This is not a ‘permanent’ tarnish solution but it will help an item remain tarnish resistant for a very long time, as well as keep it’s shine.

  5. avatar

    Jessie Adams

    November 30, 2009 at 3:53 am

    hokay, I agree with the safety comments. This is the hazards that you want to avoid. I used to use rouge with my cordless dremel and 1″ felt pads when we were doing solid pieces of jewelry that my husband used to make. It worked well in cleaning up the silver but I found it was a royal pain to clean up. I have since moved on to the rouge clothes and they worked well,but again they are a bit messy. The best clothes I’ve found are the ones that are called white rouge and usually are two clothes one treated and one plain shammy type that can be used for a final buffing off. I also have used plain toothpaste like tom’s to clean off the end or Bio O Kleen dish detergent which is grapedseed oil and orange oil based and does a great job cleaning crud. I even use it on my pearl beadword and never have had a problem with it . However I have never soaked anything with it and it might be a problem for porous stones like Malachite, which I did have turn to a matte finish when I used Melaleuca tough and tender. Fortunately in that case the effect was so unique that I was able to sell it. If you sell at a city street market you are always going to have challenges with the sulfer dioxide in auto emissions tarnish your work. Three things I would suggest
    1) always polish your wire before construction and make sure your hands are free of any oils or stuff. Yep no chips at the bench folks
    2) Keep your materials seperate from copper or sulfer ores. Pyrite is a big culprit.
    3) 3M has tarnish strips and tabs that are available from some of the jewelry supply houses that can be added to your bags or packaging to keep stuff from tarnishing. This can also be a selling point too for your customers to send home with them. There are also tarnish resistant bags too that have coating on the inside. I haven’t tried those yet. Again check out the jewelry supply companies.
    Hopes this helps
    Have fun
    Jessie

  6. Pingback: Jewelers Rouge

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