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Polishing after setting stones

Hello all,

I am a jewellery student and I have some questions I hope someone
could help with. I made a couple of sterling silver rings, I polished
them and gave them to a setter. The stones to be set were an opal,
some cubic zircons and some garnets. When I got them back, the
finish was dull and one of the rings had file marks. They need to be
polished again. My questions are:

  1. Am I supposed to polish the rings before I give them to the

  2. How can I polish the rings once the stones are set? I’m afraid I
    will ruin the opal if I use tripoli or rouge.

Thanks beforehand for your advise!

Sandra, et al !

Let me put some of my .02 scents worth in here… ALL RINGS MUST BE
PRE-POLISHED before setting. Now we got this all celared up, if I
have to do any clean-ups after setting I would use a pumice wheel of
180 grit, this leaves little labour for the ‘polisher’ afterwards.

Opals are soft and can loose their bevelled surface during the heavy
polishing, but most ring polishers are very gentle with these
stones…“most” is the clue word. I spend about 30% of my setting time
in the ‘full clean-up’ everywhere…If I see any file marks they must
be removed while at my bench, and not left for anyone else to ‘polish

Again in your case, I wold run a Flat or Tapered pumice wheel…(of
your choosing) and check for any blemishes…then use a gentle Triploy
and then a ‘light’ rouge afterwards!..BTW…silver is VERY SOFT and


I polished them and gave them to a setter 

Did you say “setter” or a butcher?

You can re-polish garnets and CZ but opal is a problem. There are
rubber wheels made with pumice instead of carborundum or other harsh
abrasives. They come in different degree of finesses. You can
restore finish using those and them use rouge only. No harsh
chemicals on the opal. Wash after polishing soap and water.

Leonid Surpin


Always polish mounting before setting any stone in any metal. After
stones are set, all that will need polishing (lightly) is the
head/prongs or bezel. The stone setter should remove all file marks
made while setting stones. Silver jewelery too long in the ultra
sonic will dull the finish every time. Some pieces I lightly rouge
again after cleaning and then wipe off excess with polishing cloth.

Hope this helps.
Lisa McConnell

Am I supposed to polish the rings before I give them to the setter? 

depends on the arrangement you have with the shop. Expect an
additional charge for polishing, although polishing tool marks in the
area of the stones should be included in the setting charge.

How can I polish the rings once the stones are set? I'm afraid I
will ruin the opal if I use tripoli or rouge. 

you shouldn’t really have a problem as long as you don’t let the opal
get hot, and HOLD ONTO that ring! Neither rouge nor regular tripoli
will abrade the stones. You should be careful cleaning off the
residue though. Its usual practice to completely finish a piece
before setting, then touch up afterwards.

You should pre polish before setting, the buff after setting.

Sandra; All of the mentioned stones can be polished in place you
might be careful with the opal about overheating but even that is of
minimal risk. I usually do the best job I can of polishing with the
tripoli or bobbing compound before setting but will go back if
necessary. I always do my final polish with rouge after setting the
stones. I have one additional comment. You say you are a jewelry
student sending your work to the setter? Why are you not setting the
stones yourself? It’s not that hard and a necessary skill.

Dave Owen