Does tumbling (burnishing & polishing) harden bezels too much to
set stone. Need to anneal bezel and prongs to set stones?
Tumbling does not harden bezels too much to set stone.
Can you tumble polish as final step with most stones in place? I
would expect stone like opal and malachite too soft for this
That’s generally not a good idea. I’ve had some luck tumbling PMC
with glass set in it. I wouldn’t plan on regularly tumbling pieces
I tumble everything I do. I have both fabricated and cast elements.
I finish to about 600 grit or to a point where you could go to
tripoli or white diamond tripoli. Then I put the stuff without stones
in a mild abrasive media in a vibrating tumbler. I usually run about
4 hours. If I want it shiny, the next step is to stainless steel in a
rotary tumbler for about 30 minutes. If it is not textured and I want
a perfectly bright shiny finish, I complete the cycle in dry media in
a vibratory tumbler. In any case, I set stones after all finishing
and patinas are complete.
My work is mostly one of a kind and not high production. Years ago I
found that I really disliked hand buffing. Even with a really good
vacuum picking up the dust, it was dirty. I did some research on how
the big guys finish their production pieces and then scaled down the
process. It is all documented in “Tumble Finishing for Handmade
Jewelry”, available from most of the large jewelry making suppliers.
I do have a small vibrating tumbler I've used for brass but, would
probably purchase a new one with appropriate media.
After you read the book, you will probably figure out how to use
what you have.