Batch Tarnish Removal

Hey all, I’m looking for solution to a problem. Every once in awhile
I have whole trays full of rings and other sterling jewelry which have
tarnished naturally overtime. In the past, I have gone through and
used the cloth or dip to clean the each and every individual piece. I
was wondering if any of you have had experience with using a rotary
tumbler to take care of such a problem. If so what type of media you
use, and under what condition did you use it.

I have been using steel shot in my finishing process, however, I have
never quite managed to get the pre-charged walnut shell to work
properly. The Rouge always seems to stick to to the jewelry as
opposed to leaving a nice shiny finish, which is after all what I am
attempting to accomplish. I have gone through this process using both
a wet and dry method.

I would much appreciate some suggestions.

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Dear Silverfoot,

If ever there were a Hall of Fame for jeweler’s tools the vibratory
tumbler would be a prime candidate for inclusion…I have been
using vibratory tumblers of various types for thirty years and they
are absolutely indispensable.

Your problem of maintaining the appearance of silver inventory is
easily solved by using the simple method of burnishing your stock
with ceramic media using any vibratory tumbler ! The only catch to
this method is that of BREAKING IN the media.I have never found any
ceramic media which had been prepolished and have always had to
accomplish this by using a ROTARY tumbler. You can skip the first
coarse grit and go directly to 220 grit and, thence, through the
whole regimen of successive stages. Once polished, these media will
last indefinitely when used to burnish jewelry in the vibratory. It
is a simple matter of combining a small amount of water charged with
liquid detergent and allowing the jewelry to stay in the tumbler for
about a half hour. It is best not to combine dis-similar metals. (
The method is very effective for gold as well ) The number of items
which you can do simultaneously depends on the size of the
tumbler…the smaller tumblers can usually do about twenty five
rings at a time. Do not use an excessive amount of liquid as this
seems to impair the action of the tumbler. Usually about a cup full
of liquid will suffice. The method is oustandingly effective for
chains but some types reguire that you connect the chain end to end
and drape it around the centerpost so that it does not kink or knot.

The aforementioned procedure is also very effective for freshly
produced jewelry…it is especially effective for doing the insides
of rings. In this regard you will find that more operating time may
be required. It is also critical that your choice of media be the
SMALLER size BIAS cut cylinders. Cleaning of the media is usually not
required very often unless you are doing continuous large batches.
Cleaning is a simple matter of placing the media in a large seive and
allowing running water to circulate through them while agitating them
with your hand.

When you get this procedure down “pat” you will be embarrassed that
you have wasted so much of your past time on futile efforts and, if
you place a value on your time, you will be richer…or maybe I
should say, more profitable ! Ron at Mills Gem, Los Osos, CA.

P.S. I wrote to you awhile back about your vintage pill boxes and
never got an answer…Que pasa ?

have you ever seen one of those trays you just put the silver on it
in water and it “de tarnishes” itself - I wonder if that would help
you. gregor

Hey all, I'm looking for solution to a problem.  Every once in awhile
I have whole trays full of rin

ps i forget to say - i think it is made of magnesium

Use the Speed Brite’s ionic jewelry cleaner. They have 3 models; the
smallest can do 5 rings at a time. But, with the quantity that you
have, perhaps their largest model may fit your needs. They’re safe to
use even with stones such as : opals, tourmalines, emeralds, etc. set
in jewelry. You don’t have to change chemicals, for it 'll remove
tarnish from both silver and gold jewelry. It will even brighten up
the making it sparkle like new. The cleaners are normally
sold at all jewelry tool supply stores.
Minoru Azama in hot & muggy Tokyo.

I have not used a rotary tumbler to remove tarnish from finished
pieces. The best way that I know of to remove tarnish is as follows;

Fill a glass pan (Pyrex) with boiling water Place an aluminum plate in
the bottom of the pan. You can use aluminum foil if you do not have an
aluminum sheet. Add some calgon water softener, the kind you use in
the laundry to the water. Drop your silver pieces onto the aluminum
and in seconds the tarnish comes right off. Does not harm your silver
at all. I have been doing this for years. I also put pieces with hard
stones into the same solution with out a problem.

Milt Fischbein
Calgary Alberta - Stampede City

I will on occasion tumble tarnished sterling jewelry in rotary barrel
tumbler using stainless steel shot media with a gold/silver
burnishing solution (available from Rio Grande). I have had excellent
results with stoneless jewelry that is not antiqued. I have had mixed
results tumbling jewelry with stones set. I have found that when
tumbling stone jewelry, reducing the number of pieces to 1/2 capacity
and reducing the tumbling time by 2/3 improves the results. I would
not attempt to tumble any valuable gemstone under any circumstances.
I would recommend that you avoid tumbling soft and porous stones.
Also, tumbling silver jewelry that has been antiqued will remove the
antique finish along with the tarnish. I am just experimenting and
would also like to hear from anyone that has any tried and true batch
tarnish removal techniques. Bodene

Good idea, but that works about as well as the Tarnish-removal
Liquids. What I have found with these liquids is that they
temporarily remove the tarnish. Tarnish seems
to reappear in about 1/3 the time as when I have used other methods.

silverfoot - dump the whole batch (less any copper-based stones) into
tarnex, swish around, dump into a sink of liquid detergent & warm
water, swish around. rinse, rinse, rinse. lay out on towel on floor
in front of refrigerator (post sign to warn other bigfoots) - i know
this is really complicated & time-consuming, but i’ve have been doing
this for ages & it works - ive

have you ever seen one of those trays you just put the silver on it
in water and it "de tarnishes" 

This stirs up a dim memory: don’t some people do clever things with
Calgon, water, and aluminum foil? Never tried this, but have heard
people swear it’s magic. Anyone know about it? (By the way, a great
trick for cleaning the bottom of vases or crystal decanters that have
gone cloudy is to use denture tablets.) --Andy

Another way to remove tarnish is to run your shop worn or tarnished
pieces in Green Buff and wood pegs for silver or red buff and wood
pegs for gold or brass. An alternate media is Dri shine II and
Simichrome polish. The buff media are available from Rio Grande, and
the Dri Shine from Gesswein. Overnight is long enough, or at least 4
hours. When you take your pieces from the tumbler, simply wipe them
with a clean soft cloth to remove the mist of polishing compound.

This is a dry process, and requires an inexpensive vibratory tumbler.
It is the same type used in reloading to clean cartridges. I use a
4 quart one that cost about $165. If you use the tough paper price
tags intended for rings, you don’t even have to re-tag after

Responding to the earlier post from Ron at Mills Gem: Another way
to condition ceramic polishing media is to load a closed system
vibratory tumbler with media, and a bunch of sterling scrap or fused
scrap. Add water, no soap or compound, about an inch or so deep.
Turn on the tumbler and let it run for a week. It makes a gooey
mess, all black and icky. At the end you have polished scrap and
media that will polish silver or gold beautifully. In my experience
you only have to do this once when you begin to use new media.
Ceramic polishing media requires much longer running time (24 to 48
hours) than steel (about 2 hours), but doesn’t work-harden the metal
and is much more gentle.

Judy in Lakewood Colorado where it’s cool at night and we don’t talk
about the daytime heat.

Ive, This is probably a stupid question but why in front of the
fridge? And does it work for sterling beads too? Thanks in advance,

to gregor & all - those ‘tarnish trays’ for $15 to $25 you’ve seen are
just flat pieces of aluminum that, when used with one of the
carbonates such as dishwasher powder & warm water, will remove
tarnish; identical results with an aluminum sauce pan: warm, not
boiling, water with a couple of tablespoons of dishwasher powder
mixed in & add silver. it’s just not as good as tarnex for me.
brighten your life & silver - ive

Dear Judy, I was intrigued by our post about breaking in media by
letting it run in the vibratory for a long period of time…I’ll
experiment with it next time I need to condition ceramic media.
Meanwhile, I can assure you that burnishing oxidised silver jewelry
in my tumbler using the polished ceramic media NEVER takes more than
an hour or two. Could it be the difference in conditioning ? Ron at Mills Gem, Los Osos, CA

    have you ever seen one of those trays you just put the silver
on it in water and it "de tarnishes" itself - I wonder if that would
help you.    

G’day; magnesium would not remove tarnish alone in water. It would
if the liquid contained washing soda (sodium carbonate) Dissolve some
washing soda in warm water in a glass or ceramic basin, (doesn’t
matter how much) put some aluminium foil in the bottom of the basin
and put the tarnished silver in the solution. Nascent hydrogen
(fresh, highly activated) hydrogen gas) is evolved and that will
combine with the tarnish (mostly sulphides) and leave the silver
bright. It will not ‘eat away’ the silver. Try it sometime. Cheers, –

John Burgess; @John_Burgess2 of Mapua Nelson NZ

vera - haven’t ignored you - just haven’t been online today. if you
look you will see a grill/grid across the front bottom of the fridge

  • that is where the refrigerator ‘exhaust’ comes out: the warm air
    that can dry a pair of tennis shoes in a couple of hours - will dry
    all of the piece at the same time, including tubing, etc. & will dry
    as big a bunch of jewelry as the towel will hold. from the pragmatic
    lapidary - ive