Using stainless steel shot

Dear Listmembers, Can anyone say whether stainless steel shot,
used in a vibratory tumbler to polish metal jewelry, can safely
be used when the jewelry contains a set stone, such as a
cabochon? I assume that agate might be OK – how about lapis or
turquoise? Does using shot this way produce a mirror or
near-mirror finish on the metal? Thanks in advance!

Judy Bjorkman

Absolutely, do not put any cab stone in the tumbler. I
personally would not put any stone in there. Good luck!


Hi, I would think it is not a good idea to metal shot tumble
stones. Use a media that is not abrasive, small plastic beads in
tripoli, then finish with walnut shell and rouge. also not a
good idea to tumble in a metal tub. Agate are subject to impact
damage and soft stones will lose their finish or break. In my
experience anything that has a chance of happening will!
Ringman John Henry

Dear Judy Personally I would never tumble polish a piece with a
set stone of any kind. However I have heard that some people
dare do it with diamonds, sapphires and rubys, but I definitely
would not try with turquoise or lapis lazuli, as I find these
too soft (haven’t looked them up). However, if you try, I’m sure
teh list would like to hear the results. I tried once with
malakit, but it ended up being extremely dull and matte.

Kind regards
Niels L=F8vschal, Jyllinge, Denmark
phone (+45) 46 78 89 94

Judy- I’ve tumbled lapis, sodalite, adventurine, rubies, and
sapphires -but all small ones for about three hours in stainless
steel shot. Once, the softer stones got a metallic sheen to
them, but I could rub it off with some elbow grease. Alexis

List, Several months ago I made a fine silver chain with
turquoise nuggets within the links. There was not a lot of money
involved so I decided to take the chance and put it in the
vibratory tumbler with steel shot and a bit of liquid dish soap
and water. Came out looking great, will surely do this again.

Judy - Using stainless steel shot will make stuff shiny and can
be used with set stones of some kinds - however … don’t
confuse shiny with polished. When you rouge a piece on the buff,
if you don’t do the bobbing and tripoli, you get shiny but not
smooth finish. Stainless only makes shiny, not smooth. I’ve
seen some set glass cabs tumbled with stainless in small rotary
tumblers. what they look like is that someone tumbled them -
they don’t look finished. As to what kind of stones, tough is
better than hard, cabs better than faceted. It is so simple to
set after doing a complete job of tumbling, ie: abrasive(s),
burnishing (that’s the stainless part), and then a session in a
buffing compound of wood chips, pegs and some kind of polishing
compound - iron oxide for karat gold, chrome oxide for silver or
simichrome for either. There is a book on the subject - “Tumble
Finishing for Handmade Jewelry” -$12 from Rio Grande
Albuquerque. No I wouldn’t do turquoise in a tumbler unless it
is stabilized, plasticized and probably not very good stuff.
Judy Hoch