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Burnishing Sterling Silver

I am creating Silver Bracelets. Think of those ID bracelets with the metal tag in the middle connected to chain.

I will be hand sanding that middle part up to 400 or 600 Grit and then plan on Burnishing it to give it a bit more shine. How is Burnishing generally done?

I have a vibrating tumbler and was planning on buying Stainless Steel ball shot to run the pieces in. Any recommendations? Thanks.

I use a small vibratory tumbler with SS shot and it works well.

When tumble polishing, be sure to weigh the shot, burnishing fluid, and the metal work to ensure that you are not exceeding the weight capacity of your tumbler. The water level should be just above the top of the shot, too much or too little can affect the polishing process.

Look in the archives for details on fluids.

Do all your finishing before you connect the chain. I do use a tumbler with SS shot for very small pieces and to do cleanup, but for me, the best finish on silver is done with polishing wheels, tripoli and then rouge or other similar compounds. Since most of my work is big, I use 6" wheels to start and a 1/2 hp motor (I will buy a 3/4 - 1 hp next time around). You can use smaller wheels and a smaller motor. You can even buy small 1" wheels for a flex shaft. Don’t forget to ventilate the polishing area as the polishing duff can cause you some health problems. Lots more in the archives or just ask…Rob

Go it, thanks for the advice. In general what is the last step before you would give a Silver item to a customer? I want to make sure my pieces are free of anything that would increase the Tarnish on my Silver.

Silver will tarnish as soon as you stop polishing it. The rate of tarnish is subject to many variables. I always tell my customers that their piece will tarnish, sometimes in a good way if you are trying to get visual relief between low and high spots. I tell them that they can always bring the piece back to be re-polished. They can buy polishing cloths and use them. They can try the aluminum foil, water, salt, vinegar combo, but it will remove all the tarnish, or just ignore it. I tell them not to use the various chemical removal products because they can be hard on them and the jewelry. If you work in silver, tarnish is a fact of life.

I forgot the foil hot water salt & vinegar deal

Line a bowl with foil, how much salt & white or cider vinegar in…hot water how much of each???


Sharon Perdasofpy

Do an online search as there are lots of recipes to be found. I use it for fine chains and pieces that can’t be polished on a wheel.

I use the foil, baking soda, hot water method on fine chain. I bury the chain, add the hot water by pour it into a spoon to disperse the water slowly so it doesn’t wash away the soda. Then I just let it perk. I wash the chain when I think it has cooked enough and I draw it through a Blitz cloth to restore the shine. Looks like new.