Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Using Raytech tumble-vibe


I just purchased a Raytech tumble-vibe 10 from Rio for polishing
jewelry. I spoke with a Rio rep and described that I needed something
to help clean up tarnished jewelry before storing. It seems that I
spend an entire day cleaning my stock before a show even though I am
storing it in plastic bags with non-tarnish strips.

The rep suggested that I buy the green polish shine and the cobb
meal. So I try it out, first tumbling with the green media and then
the cobb meal. I must say that I’m not impressed and found that the
green polish build-up wouldn’t entirely come away even after tumbling
for 2 hours with the cobb meal. I’m also afraid that one of my more
fragile stones may have suffered some slight damage although Rio said
that this stone would be fine. Also, the green polish shine is wedged
in every nook and cranny you can imagine so I have to spend more time
trying to get it out.

Am I doing something wrong? Do any of you use this cleaning method
and can offer some suggestions? I tumbled the jewelry in green media
for about 5 hrs. and then 2 hrs. with the cobb meal.

Thanks very much,


Hello Christi

First, let me suggest getting Judy Hoch’s wonderful little book
"Tumble-Finishing for Handmade Jewelry." I know Rio carries it, as
do several other jewelery suppliers. It’s very practical and answers
many questions. Excellent resource and very reasonably priced! (no,
I’m not the author)

Second, did you tumble the green media for several hours before
using it on your finished work? When I first got the media (I have
crushed walnut shell), the instructions were to work the Meta-gloss
(green polishing stuff) into the shell pieces until it was
distributed evenly, then tumble for 8 hours. That evenly coats the
pieces of shell and allows the solvents to evaporate. (one oz
polishing compound to 8 pounds of shell) The shell then looks shiny
but is not sticky.

I rarely tumble more than an hour. It is best to check after 15 or
30 minutes. I have found that there is a slight coating left on the
jewelry, but it comes off with something like 409 or Windex and a
light scrubbing with a toothbrush. (One must be cautious with pearls,
turquoise, and other stones that could be harmed by ammonia.) Any
tags have to be replaced though - they are dingy.

The little pieces of shell DO get wedged in openings and behind
stones. The best solution (thanks to Noel) is to put them in a small
cardboard box, and “shake like a crazy woman.” The pieces will almost
always come loose. The box is rigid enough for a good impact to jar
things loose, yet doesn’t damage.

Another tarnish removal solution - and more effective - is an ionic
cleaning machine. It takes 15 seconds or so. I use the brand
"Speed-Brite". This method removes tarnish in crevices, so is not
good for pieces with an intentional patina. That can be a bummer.

I think that there is no single best answer. The appropriate
method/tool depends on the piece of jewelry. Sorry you are being
frustrated. Undoubtedly there will be other input. Orchid is such a
sharing community. Also thanks to Hanuman and Ton for their ongoing
work to keep us connected.

Judy in Kansas, where it promises to be a sunny day and maybe even
warm enough to hang the wash out!

Christi - there is a relatively new compound out there called
Vibra-dry. It’s a bizarre combination of walnut shell, rice, 50,000
diamond, steel, garbanzo beans and other stuff. While it has been
marketed as the next thing to magic, reviewers have found it useful
for cleaning all kinds of finished jewelry with stones, including
opal and pearl. It is available from

I’ve tried it for other applications, and what it works for is
cleaning. Get some and try it.

The green buff requires a fair amount of clean up. Five hours is too
long realistically for clean-up.

Judy Hoch

Judy,…I don’t know if there is a new company marketing this
’Vibra-dry’ or not but I have some Vibra-dry that is about 30 years
old!! Came to me from an old rock shop that was donated to our Gem
and Mineral Society!!! The formula you describe sounds a bit
different as what I have is mostly walnut shell but names the same.
To tell the truth tho, I have not even tried it. Cheers, Don.

Hi Christy, I was just at Rio today, and talked to their wonderful
staff. I use regular walnut shell and charge it with Meta-gloss, but
I run that for 10-15 hours. As far as having excess build up, after
the walnut shell, I use ceramic media (a mix of beads and cylinders)
with Avalon A3 for a cleaning stage. It helps tremendously with
getting off build up and removing the fine pieces of walnut shellHope
this helps, Tom

The Vibra-dry that I mentioned is a new formulation from the same
people. For some reason, they have used the same name for a very
different product.

The first time I saw it, I thought it was a joke. It has so many
unusual components. When have you ever found garbanzo beans/ chick
peas and rice in a lapidary product?

It is an amazing product for cleaning finished jewelry, right down
to jewelry with opals. I’ve only seen it done in one of their smaller
Tumble vibe machines and used for cleaning finished jewelry.

I am running some tests and will report back on the results. It has
one big advantage over the normal dry media charged with some
polishing media - the jewelry comes out clean with no need for
washing, wiping or removing any surface goo.

Judy Hoch