Years ago I read in Lapidary Journal that someone had polished
sterling silver/gemstone earrings in a vibratory tumbler and they
were still on the cards! They came out tarnish free. I have
searched my old magazines and have not been able to find this
article. Does anyone know how to do this?
A simple way to polish your tarnished jewelry is to use a dry media
and charge it with simichrome or chrome oxide. This stuff is sold by
Gesswein, Ottofrei, Rio Grande and others. My preference is for a
mixture of small wood chips and nutshell with wood pegs. Pretty much
all the dry media will work whether it comes charged or you charge
old media or use new plain media. Run for 12 hours and check, may
take up to 36 hours if really tarnished. Fill your vibratory tumbler
to the ninety percent level. This works best when the media is warm
so run the tumbler with media for an hour before adding your jewelry.
Simichrome is used to polish chrome on autos, some jewelry supply
houses carry it now. The chrome oxide is available as a paste from
Rio Grande. I like simichrome because it’s not as messy as the oxide.
There will be a slight haze on the jewelry when the process is
complete. Rinse with soap and warm water to remove it.
I’ve cleaned silver jewelry with stones, even with amber, with this
These are the cautions for mechanical polishing.
Don’t over fill your tumbler. A good rule of thumb is to have no
more than fifteen percent jewelry by volume.
This process will usually remove patinas.
The little tiny pieces get stuck in openings and crevices. Use
your sonic to remove them.
Be sure that you have plenty of media to be sure that your
jewelry doesn’t impinge on other pieces in the tumbler.
And a final hint - use zip ties or fishing line to tie several
pieces together. It will make finding everything a lot quicker when
you fish the jewelry from the media.