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Argentium copper-plated in tumbler


I just had the most unusual thing happen. I cut a bunch of 16g
Argentium silver jump rings this morning, strung them on a copper
wire and popped them in my Raytech vibratory tumbler just as I’ve
done hundreds of times before. I used stainless shot, a splash of
white vinegar (which I’ve found does a bang-up job of removing the
lubricant from saw cutting), a squirt of Dawn dishsoap and added
tapwater to cover just as I’ve also done a hundred times before. The
only difference was the addition of a handful of other jumprings cut
from twisted (rose?) gold-filled wire. I can’t swear that the wire
was gold-filled since I got it second hand, but I did get it from my
grandfather who is a goldsmith and was assured by him that it was
indeed gold-filled wire. I say rose(?) with a question mark since it
seems redder than the 14kt yellow gold-filled wire that I regularly
buy from Rio Grande.

I went to check on the rings about an hour or so after starting the
tumbler only to discover that a good portion of the 16g AS rings had
turned a beautiful copper color! Some rings only have a coppery
tinge while others are as dark as pure copper wire. I also noticed
that several of the rings that didn’t turn coppery are nevertheless
considerable darker in color than the “good” rings.

I’ve heard that white vinegar can be used as a very mild pickle
substitute and therefore my conclusion is that somehow I’ve managed
to copper plate some of my rings. My question is: is there anything I
can do to remove the copper plating from the affected rings? And how
can I possibly avoid a repeat performance?

Desperately hoping to salvage some of my silver,

Karen Tremblay
KaeLynn Jewelry Design
Timmins, ON

is there anything I can do to remove the copper plating from the
affected rings? And how can I possibly avoid a repeat performance? 

you might try soaking them in a solution of 50% pickle and 50%



Hi Karen,

It does, indeed sound like copper plating. Perhaps next time, use
stainless steel binding wire instead of copper wire for this tumbling
process? And, maybe don’t mix a mystery metal with something

If it is copper-plating, I’d try a hydrogen peroxide pickle
solution. The exact proportions are flexible. It works best hot. I
put the copper-plated metal into a glass or ceramic container, cover
with hydrogen peroxide, and add pickle until it starts to bubble.
Rinse and check frequently. I’ve had students and friends forget
about it, and find that the acid had gone beyond cleaning and etched
a lovely texture.

Another thought would be to use a mildly abrasive media, using
stainless wire.

Best of luck, and please tell us what happens!

Cynthia Eid


when I sent this I should have added this:

You have gotten the advise on the peroxide - here is the source,

I don’t see the use for vinegar at all- the Dawn is cutting the oil,
alkaline is better I always say washing soda (sodium caerbonate, but
a dry type auto matic dishwashing powder that is probably better is
Cascade. The formula for this varies with the state it is sold in but
it will contain washing soda and a sodium silicate ( which is an
excellent degreaser) – state to state formula differences will be
mostly in phosphate content which is not allowed some places.

here is the Canadian approved msds for Cascade— It looks like you
don’t require concentration to be listed.

Some of these cleaners are mostly just washing soda.