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Zam


#1

Vera:

Danger, danger! I don’t know what kinds of faceted stones you intend
to try to polish with Zam, but my advice would be: don’t!

Zam comes in stick form and is usually used dry on muslin or leather
buffs to polish curved-surfaced cabochons of soft material like
turquoise and malachite. It is not intended as an all-purpose polish
and is quite coarse.

If your stones are soft enough to be polished by Zam you can be sure
the facet junctions will be rounded and the stones will be damaged.
I haven’t tried harder materials with it but wouldn’t take the chance
because there is a risk of damage and faceted stones require an
entirely different polishing technique anyway.

Unless you’re willing to invest in an expensive faceting machine,
laps, etc. and spend considerable time learning the craft, my advice
would be to purchase well-polished stones to begin with. Scratches
on faceted stones are a sign of poor workmanship or careless handling
after purchase. If a number of gems are kept together in a stone
paper they will be damaged by rubbing together even if they’re the
same hardness. This is called “parcel damage” and it’s common.
Inspect stones carefully at the time of purchase and store them
individually either in papers or stone jars. Always handle cut
stones gently, preferably with tweezers. Good luck.

Rick Martin


#2
   I was trained using Fabulustre as the final polish on both Gold
and Silver.  I have seen ZAM in the different catalogs, but have
never used it.  What is the difference between ZAM and Fabulustre
and their uses?  Is it just a matter of personal preference? 

Charles, everyone seems to find their own favorites when it comes to
metal polishes. I first started using Zam when I was cutting lots of
turquoise and malachite and found it to be the best and quickest
all-around polish for them. As a side benefit I learned it does an
excellent job of polishing Sterling but have never used it on gold.
I’ve tried Fabulustre and perhaps used the wrong technique, but
didn’t like it much. For coloring and polishing gold I much prefer
various combinations of silicone wheels (for prongs and small items)
or tripoli, bobbing compound and rouge. I can’t recall trying
Fabulustre on stone. I just checked my supplies of both polishes and
no “ingredients” are listed anywhere on the labels. Considering the
rate at which Zam cuts I suspect it’s tripoli-based but don’t know
for sure.

Zam is available in various forms (blocks, peelable tubes, etc.) from
different suppliers, and all that I’ve seen is pale green. As for
the advice I gave about touching up scratches on faceted stones,
certainly many harder stones would not be affected by polishing with
Zam. But certain soft faceted stones like tanzanite, apatite,
feldspars like sunstone or labradorite, opal, sphene, etc. could
possibly have facet junctions rounded or be cracked from overheating,
although the label says “will not scratch soft stones.” I could be
wrong – just trying to play it safe. My advice was very general in
nature. It’s certainly great for renewing the polishes of both
stones and metal in Sterling set with turquoise, variscite, gaspeite,
malachite and similar cabochons.