Is it OK to barrel polish something that is a combination of silver
and gold or will it produce an uneven finish? I'm thinking of
things I have made with gold inlays.
There is no problem polishing something with both gold and silver.
If the gold is high karat, like 22k, you may see some difference
evenness if you run the barrel more than 20 or 30 minutes. Inlays up
to 18K shouldn’t be a problem. However, a bright finish on a piece
with both silver and gold will make it hard to see the gold - a
brushed or matte finish shows the multiple metals better.
If I barrel polish something that has a bezel ready to set a stone
will it work harden it so the bezel will be impossible to rub over
or will it create a bur round the bezel edge so the stone won't fit
without further work on it?
Rotary finishing with steel will always harden a bezel - but not
very much. It will not bur the bezel. If you run too long, it may tip
the bezel slightly inward but that is easily corrected with a quick
swipe inside the bezel with a burnisher. It is seldom a problem that
Can you barrel polish pieces after the stone has been set? I guess
this depends on the hardness of stone? If so which stones can be
barrel polished or what is the lower hardness limit for barrel
polishing jewellery with set stones?
Polishing with the stones set is problematic. Many folks who use
dichroic glass will barrel polish their work with glass in place.
Personally, I would not run faceted stones in a barrel - but many
metal clay artists do. If you were to run faceted stones in your
barrel, use man-made ones. They very seldom have inclusions that
might cause breakage in the barrel. Reasonably clean cabochons of
corundum should be ok, but malachite, turquoise and other soft stones
will likely be damaged.
Judy Hoch, author Tumble Finishing for Handmade Jewelry available
from most Orchid sponsors.