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A few answers from a lurker


#1

Amber polishing- Alicia, you can polish amber to a mirror shine with
a muslin (cotton) buff, heavily charged with red rouge. I find it
works best withj the piece mounted in the article of jewelry (easier
to hold on to), but it can also be polished loose. Go easy, probably
best to practice on a scrap piece, as it melts readily. The rouge
may take a while to clean in an ultrasonic (remember - heavily
charged). Another way that I have used is to heat the piece with a
brush flame until the surface glosses, again practice is essential,
or you may destroy hours of work.

Elkstooth polishing- Ginger, you can polish the ‘ivory’ portion of
an elkstooth to a mirror finish as follows; cut and shape with saw,
file, or grinding wheel to the desired shape or size, use a muslin
buff with tripoli to smooth out file marks, and finish off with a
muslin buff heavily charged with red rouge. I find the material
works quite well and usually ‘bear down’ when polising, however you
may want to practice with the root portion that you cut off (it
works alittle different, but similar).

Liver of Sulfer- I agree with Dave S., I quit using LOS and now use
a liquid similar to ‘Black Max’. The stuff I have was given to me by
a fellow jeweler years ago out of his quart bottle, so I don’t have
the name, but believe it came from Swest. It will oxidize on gold
also (good for class rings), and does have some degree of color
control. I do have some LOS in a plastic container that is still
good circa 1995.

Pricing- Don’t be chicken to charge what you feel your work is
worth! I price at least $1 per minute for any work I do. For
custom, however, I may charge $120 per hour. I remember in 1974,
that my Dad-in-Law worried about raising his watch cleaning prices
from $8.95 to $12.95. When he did it, the customers didn’t blink an
eye, in fact we got busier, so he raised prices again, and again,
until the intake of work slowed at $18.95!! The result? We were
working the same amount of time and making 112% more. The store that
I work for recently raised watch battery prices to $12.50 from their
1990 price of $6.50 and have had very little price resistance, even
though the jeweler a block and a half away is advertising $5 for
most watches. The difference is in the reputation and quality of
work. The customer feels that it is worthwhile to have the cell
replaced by a certified master watchmaker instead of a salesperson.

Thanx for the good conversations,

georockman