Polisning Turquoise Nugget Beads

I’m doing a bunch of repairs to some heirloom silver jewelry for a
lady. One of the items is a string of tumbled turquoise nuggets that
she wants shined and restrung. I’m usually pretty good at getting a
polish on turquoise but these are frustrating all my attempts so far.
I have tried tumbling them in a vibratory tumbler with Cerium Oxide,
polishing on a felt wheel with bees wax, polishing on a felt wheel
with Zam. So far the Zam has done the best with a bit of a matt
shine. I don’t want to get into epoxy or resin stabilizing because
that would require redrilling the beads and would probably leave tell
tale drips. I heard somewhere using paraffin wax and kerosene to fill
in the porosity. Anyone familiar with the process? Any other ideas?

Thanks in advance for your help!

Rick Copeland
Silversmith and Lapidary Artisan
Rocky Mountain Wonders
Colorado Springs, Colorado

I was going to go for zam until i saw you were already there.try
using a hard felt wheel or stiff core (shellac core) fully sewn
wheel(stiched to within an 1/8" of the edge)…it may work
better…also you may ask Lee Epperson to Respond.he’s a turquoise
expert… As far as treating it…it’s a pain in the ass to reprocess
previously treated /stabilized turquoise if you don’t know what the
initial treatment was it can turn it green readily.the easiest way
is to soak the pieces in water glass it is colourless and fills all
fractures ( works for opal too)…or some people mix opticon and
water glass…that’s where you get that potential greening
effect…Opticon itself is a fracture filler and can be used alone
for big pits,etc. In the yers past, we used canadian balsam, a resin
much thicker than gum arabic when melted and formerly we also used it
to seal microscope slides…I have no earthly idea whee you’d find
Canadian balsam anymore, I haven’t seen it in probably 30 years in
any catalog…but if you tried a lab supply you may have luck…it is
simply a matter of immersion and after removing, it colours and
polishes better than oils or waxes…but like I said…good luck…I
will check with some friends that deal in global perfumery
ingredients, they may have some lying around…I would recommend it
over any plastic or epoxy but i tend to go for the older more
ancient ingredients and methods… Nothing is simpler than tossing the
nuggets into a bucket or beaker of wter glass and canada balsam and
letting them penetrate to the core, removing,rinsing and a coat of
zam to finish…much work though for what it sounds like you’re going
to make on the job…

oh by the way the only epoxy and acetone or MEK formula I know takes
a month of soaking…

I wouldn’t polish them, especially if you have already tried 3
methods. If they are old you may be destroying their value. Some
turq. is too soft to polish with out the epoxy hardeners, in which
case they never were polished. Cleaning may be enough in this case?
Just the devil’s advocate, I know I sometimes get into a project so
far that I don’t see the forest for the trees as far as making
profit on it or that it can’t or shouldn’t be done at all.

Sam Patania, Tucson