Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Rouge / Zam?

Hi all,

Hoping to get some thoughts on this: We recently started casting
with a new caster who only uses a deox sterling alloy from D.H.
Fell. He does wonderful work and is very reasonable. We have always
used water base black rouge for polishing. The deox silver seems to
get hotter, faster than the regular sterling and the rouge is
effectively baking onto the metal, turning the polishing/cleaning
into a much longer, tedious process than usual. Anyway, I asked our
caster for suggestions and got the following response by email:

“You’ve got to be kidding me when you asked about rouge. Red rouge
is dirty and only good for gold as is black and yellow. No one in
the industry uses anything but Zam on the silver. And cast pieces no
matter how good they look will always have microporosity in
comparison to rolled sheet and wire as a consequence the rouge gets
in there and turns them colors and as I said is dirty. Iron oxide
the main ingident of red rouge is a tarnisher to silver unless
completely chemically removed. Chromium oxide the green in Zam is

Opinions? Suggestions?


Mike Dibble
Black Horse Design

I’ve always used Fabuluster on silver and it works very well. Leaves
no residue.


 Iron oxide the main ingident of red rouge is a tarnisher to silver
unless completely chemically removed. Chromium oxide the green in
Zam is not." 

I am certainly not a chemist, so this statement may be true.
However, I believe that to say “no one in the industry uses rouge on
silver” is a little extreme. When I was in school getting my BFA with
a concentration in Metalsmithing we used red rouge for a final polish
on silver, always with beautiful results. Likewise, I have been
working at a custom jeweler (with 30 years experience) for the past 2
and a half years, and we always finished our pieces (gold or silver)
with red rouge. We only used Zam for a final polish on soft stones
(turqoise, Lapis, etc.), although Zam does leave a nice finish on
silver as well. I wouldn’t abandon the rouge if works for you…

Mike Dibble,

I must not be in the Industry, I’ve used red rouge on silver for 20
years. Triploi and red rouge on gold and silver.

I have used different things over the years, blue stuff from Alcraft
from Germany. I like red rouge, I get excellent results. No problems.
I polish both cast pieces and fabricated pieces.

If you get good results from what you have been doing, keep doing

I prefer Zam to rouge on cast sterling pieces. I 've also had good
results on both sterling and brass with Fabulustre. Neither leaves
the residue that rouge does, IMHO.


Mike, I’m sure most, if not all of this is true, at least to some
extent. However, I use Dialux Green Rouge on a muslin buff as a
final polish on silver. I don’t know if the green in it is Chromium
Oxide, but it works best for me. For gold, I use the red rouge on
muslin, then (laugh if you will, but it works for me) Dremel
Polishing Compound on felt for the final polish. It looks more or
less like typical red rouge, and probably is, but I get my best
result with it.

James in SoFl who often uses something other than Zam in the

Hi Mike. Zam is dandy, but here’s the perfect opportunity to
suggest that the way to go for silver casting polishing is steel
shot tumbling! Take the leap and change your life ! You’ll never
be sorry.


Same here. I have used tripoli and red rouge for 30 some years with
excellent results, so I must not be in ‘the industry’ either. I
tried Zam, and cant say that it was anything special at all. I’m sure
that it has its places, but for everyday polishing of repairs and
small production, I would never change from rouge and tripoli.
Different colors of rouge will also create different shades or hues
of the final polished material, especially in gold.Maybe the
difference is in the buffing wheel itself. I use a cotton muslin
buff. different materials will cause different results.Also the
speed at which the wheel turns has a bearing on the results. Around
1725-1750 rpm is a good general polishing speed. And, there’s nothing
like practice to achieve perfection(or at least desired reults). Ed in Kokomo

I have used both Rouge and Zam and migrated to Zam because I like
the look it gives. I took a piece of silver scrap and polished half
of it with Rouge and half with Zam. Now, maybe I am seeing things,
but to my eye, the half polished with Rouge was a deeper silver color
and the half polished with Zam was a brighter silver color. I like
the brighter color produced by Zam, that’s why I use it. But when I
used Rouge I always washed the piece in ammonia w/dish soap and that
removed the remainder of the Rouge easily. I never had any
additional tarnish as a result of using Rouge.


I use bobbing, Tripoli,and then zam on gold and silver and get good
results. I simply can not use rouge because it gives me terrible head
aches, and chokes me up. I always wear a bandana over my nose while
polishing. But if I use rouge, it lingers in the air and makes me
sick. I have heard of other jewelers with the same problem. Anyone
else out there?


Julia, I respectfully suggest that a bandana is not a very effective
thing to use and that a good quality respirator, that covers both
nose and mouth, will offer you total protection from inhaling
particulates. You deserve the best protection that you can get, and
it’s cheap. Joel

Joel Schwalb

Okay, on this thread… I have a strange question…

I have created some sterling pendants where I solder a dome onto
another sheet. As a hole is needed for the gases to escape, I
usually create a heart in the back of the piece to make it more
attractive, to compliment the piece.

I use steel shot to polish,(could not afford stainless when I bought
it, but it has held up for 3 years already) . However, because of
the size of the ‘heart’ in the back, I am getting the long striaght
shot pieces stuck in my dome. So, how can I keep that from occurring
without having to make the ‘heart’ size no longer look complimentary
to the piece? Do I need to purchase different shot that won’t fall

Any help would be appreciated. I truly appreciate the inspiration I
receive on Orchid… (and thank you Metals-Edge!)

Heidi Peters
HP Designs


I would second Joel’s comments about wearing a mask. It takes some
getting used to especially if you are at all claustrophobic but your
health is certainly worth a little discomfort. Taking a shower after
my first session of sitting at a bench and polishing without a mask
or dust collector, I was mortified at the amount of black crud that
came out of my nose! I thought “This can’t be good” My next project
was to build a dust collection system. I purchased a shop vac, a
couple of cheap plastic waste baskets and about $10.00 worth of PVC
pipe and fittings. The whole thing cost less than $100.00 and we’re
still using it 4 years later and no nasty boogers in the shower! I’ll
be more than happy to send a photo or two if you want to see how it


Mike Dibble
Black Horse Design

Just another thought…I have switched to using green polishing
compound (Dialux). I really like the finish as it is very bright. It
SEEMS cleaner than rouge.

Fr. Alexis Duncan

Actually the school I studied from (New Brunswick College of Craft
and Design) recommends removing those shot pieces, that all they end
up doing is maring (scratching) your pieces. I’ve yet to order my
shot for my tumbler, but I plan on buing separate stock and mixing
them myself so I don’t have to pay for and ship steel that I won’t
use. basically removing the thin, pointy on each end. shot will
take care of that problem.

As Always,
David Woolley
Fredericton, NB, Canada

In the plating and finishing industry they use all sorts of rubber
and plastic plugs and covers. You may want to fashion some type of
rubber plug that fits snuggly and can be removed easily. Replaceable
rubber erasers (available from any office type supply store) from
mechanical pencils come to mind for a quick homemade solution) A
valuable resource is Use plugs for
your site search, a host of suppliers will come up.