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Tumbling Alpaca chain

Help!

I had an interesting experience tonight. I brought my tumbler to the
club meeting so members could tumble chains they had made over the
last couple of weeks. One gentleman brought chains made of alpaca
and silver and we put them in with sterling chains, steel shot,
tumbling soap and tap water. The sterling chains came out nice and
shiny but the alpaca chains looked like they had been oxidized with
liver of sulphur! I am using a Lortone type tumbler with a rubber
barrel. Has anyone had this happen and how can I fix it??? I’ve
already packed the Haggerty’s Silver Care polish and a soft
toothbrush for the next workshop. I have rescued sterling chains
that had a heavy layer of oxidation from someone else’s tumbler this
way. I have merrily mixed silver, gold fill and copper in the past
in a single tumbler load without a problem. Can anyone suggest what
has happened, how to successfully tumble polish alpaca and how to
recue the darkened chains (which look very nice oxidized but that is
not the effect we were trying for!)

Thanks,
Karen

Morning Karen,

I think that your problem with the alpaca chains has nothing to do
with your tumbler but the alpaca itself. I know that wool gives off
sulphur fumes that will affect silver. I’m thinking that the alpaca
does the same (hence the oxide that looks like liver of sulphur
pattination). Polishing will remove the tarnish layer no problems -
just be sure to remove all traces of the polishing compound when
you’re finished (but you already knew that :slight_smile: ). The chains will
slowly tarnish over time (since you’re not removing the cause of
tarnishing) but it will not be as dramatic as when it came out of the
tumbler.

Eileen

   I think that your problem with the alpaca chains has nothing to
do with your tumbler but the alpaca itself.  I know that wool gives
off sulphur fumes that will affect silver.  I'm thinking that the
alpaca does the same 

Eileen,

Maybe I’m misreading too far between the lines of your response, but
it sounds as though you’re thinking that chain included parts made of
alpaca wool, rather than the alloy called alpaca. Alpaca, in
addition to being the name of an animal that produces wonderful soft
wool, is also the name of an alloy generally of nickel, copper, and
zinc. It’s a synonym for German silver or nickel silver, and it
would not generally be releasing any sulphur the way wool, or eggs,
or a number of other materials can do. Somehow I doubt that the
necklace being tumbled had woolen parts. If it did, then forget this
message…

But I think you COULD get electrochemical interactions between the
chemically less reactive sterling silver, and the alpaca parts that
might cause darkening of one or the other, especially if the tumbling
liquid used is slightly acidic perhaps.

Peter

    I think that your problem with the alpaca chains has nothing
to do with your tumbler but the alpaca itself.  I know that wool
gives off sulphur fumes that will affect silver.  I'm thinking that
the alpaca does the same (hence the oxide that looks like liver of
sulphur pattination). 

Not sure exactly what you are thinking here- Alpaca Silver comes
from a town/region in Mexico called Alpaca. (Like German Silver, also
not the greatest silver) Alpaca wool mostly comes from South American
camelids. Related to camels, but distantly.

This might coincide if you wear your alpaca silver with an alpaca
sweater, but otherwise I don’t see the connection between the wool
and the color change. Help, please?

Betsy Marshall

it seems that someone thinks that Alpaca is wool!!! Unfortunately
this thought is uneducated when it comes to metals. Alpaca is NICKLE,
not silver, not wool. Unless you polish it, it will look like it is
covered with Liver of Sulpher. Some clame that “Alpaca” (the metal)
is non-tarnishing silver. (just another falsehood!)

 think that your problem with the alpaca chains has nothing to do
with your tumbler but the alpaca itself. 

I think that alpaca is also another word for nickel silver also
sometimes called German silver. It is not silver at all but is a
brass.

marilyn

Nickel silver, German silver, Alpaca Silver: alloys of nickel,
copper and zinc. No silver content.

Hi Betsy,

It is definitely alpaca metal that has discoloured - not wool. It
was in a rubber barreled tumbler with soap solution - Raytech
tumbling soap. I am planning to try the following on the smallest
sample at the next workshop: Silver Dip, my Speedbrite, Haggerty’s
Silver Care polish, Twinkle copper cleaner. I feel just terrible
that the chains didn’t come out nice and shiny.

Any other ideas out there?
Thanks,
Karen in frozen Toronto - will winter never end?

Alpaca, “nickel silver,” and “German silver,” all are names for the
same alloy. It is not nickel, as one contributor suggested, but
rather an alloy composed of copper, zinc and nickel. It does not
contain silver.

Lee Einer
Dos Manos Jewelry
http://www.dosmanosjewelry.com

I think Karen was referring to nickel silver (aka German silver,
Paktong, etc) chains, not something made from the wool of a camelid.
But it does seem to have been affected differently by the tumbling
process. Nickel silver doesn’t actually contain silver, but is an
alloy mostly composed of nickel, copper and zinc. See
http://pages.zoom.co.uk/leveridge/nickel1.html for a more complete
history and description of this material.

Andrew Werby
www.unitedartworks.com