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Polishing around soft stones


#1

How do you go about polishing around softer stones without
scratching them?


#2

Polish before setting the stones. If you are repolishing, you may
need to unmount the stones and the reset after polishing.

John


#3

Chris- I use my thumbnail. Really. I just guard the stone with my
thumbnail and polish around it. If it’s a small stone I’ll use
whatever fingernail fits.

Kinda hard on the fancy manicure though.

Have fun and make lots of jewelry.
Jo Haemer
timothywgreen.com


#4

Chris,

First, there are some “scratchless wheels”, that are designed to
shape and smooth metals, but NOT to scratch These are
great for pre-polishing around bezels, channels, etc.

I have not had problems with white diamond Tripoli, or rouge
scratching stones, even softer ones. However, small felt buffing
wheels, used with a flex-shaft, can be used to work up to the edge of
stones, but not ON the stones, if you are careful. The small felt
buffing wheels can also be dressed or re-shaped to get into tight
places needing polishing. Rotary natural-bristle brushes and end
brushes, used with Tripoli and rouge are also great to polish in hard
to reach areas, and close to stones.

Jay Whaley


#5

Chris, I would say it depends on lots of stuff but what polishing
will be necessary to complete the piece? I would get all the
polishing done prior to stone setting that I could. I set lots of
turquoise and it is not affected by the tripoli, white diamond and
rouge process that I finish most of my pieces with. I usually
tripoli and white diamond the metal and try to stay off the stones
then Zam the stones and rouge the whole thing.

Sam Patania, Tucson


#6

I try to do my major polishing before I set the stone, but if I need
to do some polishing after the stone is set, I’ll put some masking
tape over the stone. I’ll actually cut it to fit exactly over the
stone. But then I’m still really careful when I’m polishing, because
the tape can be moved. I love opals, so I also have to love the tape!


#7

Hi Jo,

I use my thumbnail. Really. I just guard the stone with my
thumbnail and polish around it. If it's a small stone I'll use
whatever fingernail fits. 

Kinda hard on the fancy manicure though.

I have found that making jewellery is utterly incompatible with any
sort of fancy manicure particularly where my fingernails are smeared
with tripoli to come off later in the soap and ammonia. And that’s
before I start using files. Still I’d rather make jewellery than have
a fancy manicure

All the best
Jen


#8

There are a lot of choices, and we all tend to have our favorites.

Personally, I love AdvantEdge silicon polishing wheels from 3M. For
working around stones or other tight areas that require smoothing
(from solder mess, or scratches from setting, or whatever) I love
knife-edged wheels, mainly the black “medium-coarse” ones if there is
material to remove. Then the blue “fine”, followed by a small soft
felt wheel with the compound of your choice, all done with the flex
shaft.

I lay the knife-edged wheel almost on its side and keep it moving,
with a gentle touch and a bit of finesse. This gives me excellent
control, and I can just keep it off stones or other areas I don’t
want to touch. Don’t hesitate to grind them down smaller if you need
to get into a really tight area-- they are consumables!

Noel


#9

Thanks to everyone for your help! I will definitely follow your
suggestions. I’ve been doing the majority of the polishing before I
set the stones. Every now and then I scratch the polished metal
surface with a tool while stone setting. After I burnish out most of
the mark, I wasn’t sure which polishes were safe to use around
colored faceted stones. Now I do and thanks again!


#10

I use a number of small wheels I get from Stuller with a flex shaft.

First, there’s stock no. 11-6281, which is course enough to do a
little cut down. Second and third are pretty much for a final polish
or close enough to it that a very light pass with rough will do,
stock no. 11-6600 and 11-6281. These are great for finishing a bezel
or prong on anything from turquoise to tanzanite. You might want to
be a little careful with the first one, but the other two won’t mar
anything with a hardness over 3.

David L. Huffman


#11

I love the Swifty 1-step abrasives from Contenti, for they remove
minor scratches, add a nice polish and does not hurt most stones.
However it will damage soft stones. I find it is best to burnish
with the tip of my short straight burnisher around the edges of
bezel, and then polish as evenly as I can with Graystar and then
finish off with Fabustre or Zam. I’ll use a knife edge buff to work
on the bezels so that I polish that, not the stone or the back.

Stuller has a new product which is the same as the Swifty 1-step
abrasives but called All in One. I find once a great product hits
the market, it’s not too long after that other companies come up
with their own version. Stuller has beautiful gallery bezels and Rio
now has a version, but not quite as refined or crisp in details.

As for setting stones, I could never get the hang of a rocker and
will literally take them out of my students’ hands, and give them a
prong pusher (which really should be called Bezel Pusher) with the
flat edge, andhave them evenly crimp the bezel over the stone. When
I worked for agoldsmith, he taught me how to hammer-set stones, and
since then, I hammer-set 95% of my stones, even on opals and
emeralds.

The goldsmith told me I had to pretend my stonesetting tool was like
a jackhammer - carefully tap the tool with hammer to push down
bezel. I could never get the hang of it, and actually planish the
bezels while hammering. I’m trained as a silversmith, so planishing
is second nature - you can mediate while planishing. I’ve learned I
can smooth out tool marks while planishing with my stonesetting tool
and 100 year old chasing hammer. I always use a prong pusher and a
short straight burnisher. The curved burnishers are useless - the
hook always goes into my nailbed on my thumb and is really painful.
I use a “potato-peeling” motion whenI hand burnish, and with great
force. I’ll also burnish the rim of bezel with the sharp edge of
burnisher which also helps to tighten slight looseness. Any ragged
edges, a graver takes care of that - shaves it right off.

I teach stonesetting frequently and end up making stonesetting tools
formy students to buy, and now, little kits of round bur,
stonesetting burand hart burs all in one package for students to buy
for flush-setting. I had to come up with a way to flush-set that
made sense to me. The GIA flush-setting method didn’t work for me,
so I adapted.

Joy


#12

I once got an order for 14kt charms that were essentially half of a
top hat (used the monopoly hat as the beginning of the model), and
they had to have a highly polished plate on the back half for
engraving. I have a friend that did most of my casting projects when
I have repeats, I make one of a kind designs almost exclusively. This
was a special customer, and I think there were over 400 charms all
together. It turned out to be easier to have the half hats cast, then
solder the plate to the backs. The clean up with Foredom, files, and
sanding stick still left no choice but, by hand, buffing with
tripoli. I went to a friend that cut hair and put on nails for women,
and had her do my thumbs, and first two fingers on each hand. Worked
like a charm! Thomas III


#13

If it is a spot that is in a small in accessible area that neither a
buffing machine or a flex shaft can reach, pull out a tooth pick.
You can get powdered grit at wood working stores. Chew the tooth pick
a bit, then dip it in the grit. You can get into the smallest little
spots. If the stone is large and recessed more, you can take a piece
of plastic sheet, not cling wrap, but the kind quilters use for
patterns. Cut it to shape and just hold it over the stone. It won’t
fall apart like paper or gum up like tape if it is not completely
pushed into place. It helps to save fingernails that like mine are
way to thin to take much off the top of.

Aggie The repurposer


#14

Hi

I love opals, so I also have to love the tape!

This is not meant to be rude just a statement of fact.

I am talking about Australian opals.

If you protect your opal with tape you know little about opals.

OPAL SETTING 101

Store your unset opals in distilled water, they do not like to dry
out.

Never set an opal in a closed back setting, it is called a “con job”
(aka fraud) in Australia.

First the piece should be fully polished and cleaned before setting.

Opals should be set in fine silver or 22kt or fine gold.

Although I did know a Japanese gentleman who hammer set his opals in
18 kt, and with the greatest respect well called him a Phreak. If you
can do that move to the next post.

After setting clean up setting marks as for turquoise or malachite.

here it is, a gem (pun intended) from a friend who is an opal miner,
cutter and setter.

here is the believe it or not

a set opal can be polished in it’s setting, it will take as much
heat as your hand.

when the piece gets hot stop and wait.

opals can take some mild heat but not thermal shock.

put your tape away and go take some polishing classes.

richard


#15

Joy,

Where do you teach?

Mary


#16
I once got an order for 14kt charms that were essentially half of
a top hat (used the monopoly hat as the beginning of the model),
and they had to have a highly polished plate on the back half for
engraving. I have a friend that did most of my casting projects
when I have repeats, I make one of a kind designs almost
exclusively. This was a special customer, and I think there were
over 400 charms all together. It turned out to be easier to have
the half hats cast, then solder the plate to the backs. The clean
up with Foredom, files, and sanding stick still left no choice
but, by hand, buffing with tripoli. I went to a friend that cut
hair and put on nails for women, and had her do my thumbs, and
first two fingers on each hand. Worked like a charm!

I just happened to re-read my last posting, which seemed appropriate
to almost nothing in the current threads. Sorry about that, I was
elaborating on someone who had posted saying she used her/his
fingernail to cover the edges of the softer stones. I have used many
varieties of soft stones for a lifetime, and this is one of the easy
ways to keep the polishing compounds (some of which will stain your
stones and take the finish off), from abrading the stones. If you
have a lot of that sort of buffing to accomplish, fake nails work
great. I hope you all can now connect the dots. Thanks Thomas III


#17

I said:

I love opals, so I also have to love the tape! 

Richard said:

This is not meant to be rude just a statement of fact. I am
talking about Australian opals. If you protect your opal with tape
you know little about opals. 

I have to admit that I’m comparatively new to this compared to
others here. I’ve used tape because it was what I had handy and it
just seemed to be an easy insurance in protecting the stone while I
set it. A lot of what I’ve learned has been through trial and error.
I of course removed the tape to check the tightness of the bezel.
I’ve used fine silver, 22K gold, and 18K gold to set my opals, and
I’ll say that I haven’t scratched one yet. knocks on wood This has
been with solid Australian opals of all colors, boulder opals, and
even one nice Brazilian opal that I lucked into. I’ve shaped and
polished a few opals from rubs and rough myself, but only on a very
small scale, and it probably took me a lot longer than it would have
with someone who knew what they were doing. But I was very happy
with how they turned out and would like to do some more in the
future. But as I said, I’m new to this and probably don’t know squat
about opals compared to others here. I’m still learning and will
gladly take the advice of anyone here. Is there something
detrimental that the tape does to the opal? I know it sometimes
leaves a bit of a residue that I have to carefully remove, but I
wasn’t aware of anything else bad.

Thank you for any advice.

And I would never set an opal in a closed-back setting. Unless the
piece was for me. I have a very pretty " but not very stable " 3 ct.
black opal that has a big chunk of the potch broken out of the back.
The front is gorgeous, but I could never sell it to anyone as
something that would hold up. So I’m going to use it in a piece for
myself " with a closed-back setting " knowing full-well that I have
to be careful with it.


#18

I prefer to protect the stone with masking tape.

Adriana Beniscelli (in Chile in a hot summer)