Repolishing Lapis Beads

I recently received a lot (hundreds) of Lapis beads (round) of
various qualities and colors. I noticed that the polish is pretty bad
(to say the least).

I also received a lot of chip bead necklaces . I feel like running
over them with my truck a couple of times. Just a passing thought
:-). The chip bead stuff… I am not even thinking about
re-polishing. I will just try to get rid of them some how.

Since they (round beads) are all temporarily strung, I would like to
re-polish them. Since I mainly do cabochons, I am not sure how to
approach this. I thought about tumbling them… but with what,
(stainless shot, leather, nuclear waste, ???) I don’t know. The
cabochons I use Tin Oxide or Sapphire Polish, it seems to work
nicely. But, I am not about to dop a couple hundred beads and polish
them. The beads are from 8mm to 15mm. If they were smaller, I could
pack them in shotgun shell and sell them as “specialty ammo”.

We wont get into how I came about having beads instead of the rough
that I ordered. One of those painful (and expensive) learning
experiences. Let’s just say… it has stressed me out a little

Any help would be greatly appreciated.
James Carpenter

Hi James, I would temporarily string them in small group on wire.
Polish on a loose muslin buff with Zam. A quick easy touch up. For
a higher finish then buff with tin oxide also on a muslin buff(it may
not be neccesary for your requirerments.) MArcus Amshoff

The best way I have found also works well for malachite and coral
beads which have been etched by skin acids: I use either a Vibrasonic
or a Minisonic tumbler with their patented dry polishing system. You
can check them out at Custom Technology’s website:


James, I have put temporarily strung beads, as well as turquoise
chunks with chain between in a vibrating tumbler with walnut shell and
polishing media. They came out looking great.

If you need a more aggressive pre polish, go to the equivalent grit
that you would use if you were working on your cabbing machine. Mix it
with husks or shell, mark this carefully for later use and work dry.
Then step up to the polishing stage.

You can do quite a few strands at a time and yes do include the
chips. A few months ago I saw a newer design tumbler. It used a
magnetic coil and fed the material in one direction only dry. It was
designed and then demonstrated by Mr. Fitzgerald. I was very
impressed, it remained open during the process and gave a very high
polish to Apache Tears. Last week I saw it carried by Earl’s, a gent
head quartered in New Mexico, I think.

When I come across the literature, I will post more. Use the
appropriate polishing media for Lapis.


Yikes! Make sure that you wrap the string of beads around a wood
block securely before you put them to the polishing wheel. Loose chain
and strands of anything on a spinning wheel can lead to disaster. Very
Dangerous. Will E.