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Removing tarnish with vibratory tumbler

I am having good luck removing tarnish on sterling jewelry with corn
cob with cerium oxide, dry. Most of the pieces have stones or
pearls. I also have plain chains which I have not tried tumbling
yet. It is just tarnish from being on display, no dirt. (I have been
putting off this chore for YEARS, so have so much to do, hand
polishing is not an option. I also have carpal tunnel syndrome, and
polishing does a number on my wrists).

I also have Rio Red Buff and Green Buff. Can someone tell me how
these 3 compounds differ? Is there a difference in how aggressive
they are?

Maybe I could batch the pieces: like use the most aggressive
polisher on plain silver, the least on pearls, opals, etc.

When I’ve used red buff before, along time ago, it colored the
pearls. It did not come off. The cerium oxide doesn’t seem to do
that, at least not for the length of time I’ve been tumbling them
(half an hour to a whole hour). In a one hour tumble, I noticed that
it took the gloss off amber, so I won’t tumble the amber as long.

But knowing which compound to use for what would help. Thanks!

Hi Linnea -

First, all the dry medias are formulated for vibratory machines only
and is not appropriate or even useful in rotary machines.

I have found a really good dry media for cleaning up jewelry. It’s
called Vibra-Dry+ and is available from Diamond Pacific. I haven’t
tested it with pearls and opals, but their tests, that I saw, were
way more than satisfactory. It’s an odd combination of organic stuff,
it looks like walnut shell, wood pieces, garbanzo beans, rice and
what makes it work - very fine diamond grit. It is being used by
jewelers for cleaning jewelry set with stones to clean it up and
remove tarnish. My only caution would be that it is very likely to
remove darkening or patinas pretty much everywhere. I’d buy the
50,000 Vibra-dry+. But if you have really bad tarnish, also get the
14,000 and run it first and follow with the 50,000.

To polish chains - run no more than three at a time. If you run
more, they will tie themselves in knots. Haven’t had it happen with
three or less.

As to the Green buff - it is a chrome oxide mixed with wood chips
and walnut shell and is for white metals. The red buff is iron oxide
mixed the same and is for yellow metals. Neither is particularly
aggressive in my experience. I mostly use Simichrome in dry media and
it works for both white and yellow metals. I’m going to load up my
dry vibe with 50,000 right now - it is a lot less messy.

If you don’t have a vibratory tumbler, look at the little
Vibra-sonic. It is great for small batches, is small and affordable.
I don’t like it for steel.

The technical director at Diamond Pacific is Don Depue and he is
very helpful.

Judy Hoch