Uses for tight-stitched yellow muslin buffs

I have a stock of tight-stitched “Knife-edge” treated (yellow)
muslin buffs- they were cast-outs from a machine shop going out of
business that did silver work as well… any thoughts as to what
their application may be for silver pieces or are they too stiff?

Personally, I don’t like the narrow yellow stitched buffs…but like
I said that is a personal opinion. I like the 1/2 inch yellow
stitched for tripoli polishing in 4 or 6 inch. It all depends on your

The Jewelry CAD Institute


I taught a polishing class for many years and used the yellow buffs
of all shapes and sizes mainly for Tripoli polishing.

When polishing anything you have to look at what you are polishing
and select the right size buff, lap or brush for the surface. Many of
these polishing tools are reshaped with various truing and trimming
tools to create the proper shape to polish the selected area.

The color indicates a treatment to stiffen the material up.

It will work well with silver gold or platinum.


Todd Hawkinson
Southeast Technical College

Good Morning, I noticed you taught polishing of jewelry and wondered
if there is anything you would recommend using instead of white
diamond which is so toxic.

Thanks, Lynda
Lynda Rasco

Dear Lynda,

There are two approaches to polishing. One is a repair approach and
the other is manufacturing.

Let’s cover manufacturing first.

The best Tripoli I have found is water soluble Grey Star. The
traditional Grey Star works great but is greasy and hard to clean
off. The water soluble is a newer product and somewhat hard to fine.
I believe Gesswein and Rio do carry it, but you have to make sure you
get the water soluble stuff or they will automatically send the old
original compound. It is in my opinion the best and I would not buy
any other Tripoli compound. Tripoli polishing is approximately 85 to
90 % of the manufacturing polishing process. The old stuff works
great but is a bit of a chore to remove.

Tripoli is always cleaned off totally before any other process. When
cleaning, a heated ultrasonic is the standard followed by steam
cleaning. In many manufacturing shops you may also see a steel soup
caldron boiling away to help remove Tripoli compound. I use Tide
laundry detergent for the boil out pot.

Tripoli polishing should leave your jewelry scratch free. This Grey
Star could also leave quite a nice mirror surface if you know what
you are doing.

I like the traditional red Rouge for final buffing. You are
polishing a mirror surface here. Mostly with white cotton buffs and
softer brushes.

Repair polishing is a bit different and the compounds are in many
cases what I call a combination compound. Not really a Tripoli and
not really red Rouge. White diamond is one of these compounds. What I
like about White Diamond is that it is water soluble and can be mixed
with red Rouge without cleaning between steps.

A couple of other notes; I don’t care what is written up describing
the working properties of various newer compounds. After almost 40
years of making and polishing jewelry I know what I like and compare
how a product works to what I describe here. Many of the developers
of these compounds have never set foot in a jeweler’s workshop and
couldn’t polish a thing.

As for other compounds like White Diamond you could try Zam, Yellow
Glow and the Luster Bar. They have close working properties to one
another and are fairly water soluble.

I also don’t do much polishing at the bench. Too much air born crap
to breathe in.

Best Regards,
Todd Hawkinson
Southeast Technical College

if there is anything you would recommend using instead of white
diamond which is so toxic 

First time I’ve ever seen white diamond compound referred to as “so

White diamond tripoli does indeed contain crystaline silica, at
least according to Rio’s MSDS sheet, and that isn’t good to breath.
But normally, one worries about that stuff if it’s in a form where it
can become easily airborne and be breathed in. This is certainly the
case with casting investment, where the dry powder easily can drift
around in air currents when disturbed, or released when quenching a
flask, which is why respirators or proper ventillation is so
important when dealing with casting investment.

But casting investment, once wet with water to a slurry, doesn’t
present the danger, since it doesn’t then become airborne.

And white diamond tripoli isn’t used as a dry fine powder likely to
become airborne. It’s mixed thoroughly with wax binders. These not
only help adhere the stuff to polishing wheels, but also mean the
particles that might be thrown off a wheel are much less likely to be
the dry tiny bits capable of being carried on a breeze. Instead, it’s
more likely to be larger particles composed of both silica particles
and the wax binder. That all means heavier. It gets everywhere in use
if you don’t have a dust collector, but it only takes reasonable
care to avoid inhaling the stuff. A simple N95 respirator is all you
need, and that’s if you don’t have a decent dust collector on your
polishing setup.

So while I understand the assumption that white diamond could be
toxic (crystaline silica, inhaled chronically over time is one cause
of silicosis, but it’s not actually poisonous. It’s the long term
lung damage from chronic exposure that’s the worry), I’m wondering if
perhaps you’re not overstating the state of affairs just a little. No
polisher I’ve ever met has gone out of his/her way to warn anyone
away from white diamond to any greater degree than any other
polishing compound…

But, if you’d like to avoid white diamond, use brown tripoli. That’s
not crystaline silica, but diatomacous earth. Also a silica, but in a
different form. Larger particles, even less likely to become airborn.
Or use one of the several polishing compounds based on alumninum
oxide instead of silica based compounds. These normally are sold for
specialty purposes, such as polishing platinum, and are not as safe
around softer stones (they’ll take the facet edges off many stones if
you’re not careful). But they’re not silica, if that’s your concern.
Gesswein sells a line of these compounds I like a lot.

Frankly, though, rather than avoiding white diamond compound, I’d
suggest instead taking whatever steps you need to take so that you
won’t be inhaling ANY polishing agents. If polishing “at the bench”
with a flex shaft, that usually means a decent respirator. The simple
3M disposable N95 types are rated for this type of use. Or set
yourself up with a decent polishing setup with a dust collector, face
shield, etc, so the stuff doesn’t get out of the machine.

Here’s a simple informal test to determine your risk. After
polishing, look in the mirror. If your face is still clean, you’re
probably doing things right. If you’re covered head to toe in
polishing grime, or if just your face is dirty with it, well, then
get the respirator. And while we’re at it, if you’re polishing in a
manner that gets your face full of the compound, then don’t forget
eye protection too…

Peter Rowe

... instead of white diamond which is so toxic. 

What is so toxic about White Diamond? Is it any worse than other
polishing compounds?

Judy Bjorkman