How to Polish Plated Metal

Jan 3, 2008

Recently, I received two similar questions from Beading Daily readers. One asked about polishing plated metal, while the other wondered about wire that kept its shine. I asked Denise Peck, editor of Step by Step Wire Jewelry, to answer them here so that we could all learn from her experience.--Michelle Mach, Beading Daily editor 


 

It was pretty when you first bought it. Now what?

Q: I had a question regarding silver and gold plated metal. What is the best thing to use on it when they start to turn? I made a lots of earrings using plated metal when I first started beading. Now the ear wire is tarnished, so I won't wear them. What is safe to use to clean it?

Q: I have discovered that I LOVE wireworking. But I have been using silvertone or goldtone non-tarnish wire and while the color lasts, the shine does not. I am not so efficient yet that I feel I can use sterling wire all the time. Is there an alternative type of wire that won't lose its shine or color?

A: Both of these questions present reasons why I have chosen to work primarily with sterling wire.

It is common to find that base metals lose their shine over time. Some eventually may acquire a fairly pleasing patina, but that's long in coming, and certainly a different look from what you originally purchased.

You can buy copper and brass wire that is lacquered so the shine won't fade. Companies that sell colored craft wire such as Parawire and Artistic Wire have some natural colors such as coppery shades, and pewter and gold, and they're lacquered so they won't lose their shine.

As for polishing plated metals, it's usually impossible to determine how thick the plating is and therefore, it's not recommended that you use any polishing material or cloth with abrasives. Anything abrasive can rub off the layer of plating and ruin your piece.

A quick internet search found a reference to a soft polishing cloth without abrasives called Selvyt that contains no chemicals and no polishing compounds. It is reportedly a favorite in jewelry stores.

Thanks, Denise! 


 

Share Your Original Wire Jewelry Designs

Are you ready to submit your original work for publication? Not sure? One way to test the waters is to submit your designs to magazines that have special pages for work by readers. Because these pages usually feature photos only (no project instructions), the submission process is usually simple.

Step by Step Wire Jewelry is looking for original wire designs by readers to feature in the "Wire Works" section of the magazine. If you have created a unique piece of wire jewelry, please send a high-quality photo of your best work to dpeck@interweave.com. (And please let me know if your design is selected for the magazine. I love hearing your good news!)

 


Congratulations, Robin Cowart!

Robin's project, the netted Snowflake Ornament was the most downloaded free project on Beading Daily in 2007. There are nearly 200 projects in the free project library, so that is quite an accomplishment! Be sure to check out the other popular projects and see what you may have missed!


Coming Next Week: Readers share stories of their first beading sale, along with helpful tips and suggestions for selling your work.

 


 

Free eBook
Making Wire Jewelry:  6 Free Wire Designs from Beading Daily

Create 6 stunning wire jewelry projects (2 wire necklaces, a wire bracelet, 2 pairs of wire earrings, and a wire ring) with this free eBook that contains step by step wire jewelry instructions for each project.  Jewelry designs range in difficulty from beginner to intermediate and use a variety of wire work techniques, including spirals, coiling, wirewrapping, hammering, and twisting wire.  Download Making Wire Jewelry:  6 Free Wire Designs from Beading Daily


 

Michelle Mach is the editor of Beading Daily. She loves playing with wire and metal, just not polishing it!



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Comments

LisaF@51 wrote
on Jan 4, 2008 5:57 PM
Regarding polishing plated beads and findings- Most music stores that sell band instruments sell a polishing cloth specifically meant for plated instruments.(Mine is distributed by Selmer.) It will remove the tarnish without removing the plating, but is best used before the tarnish gets too thick. It doesn't help beads and findings that have had the plating wear off, however.

Lisa Francesca-Rogerson
cabradley55 wrote
on Jan 4, 2008 7:42 PM
I have been using Sunshine Polishing Cloth on some silver-plated Tierra
Cast findings for years without harming the finish.
HannahB@15 wrote
on Jan 4, 2008 9:22 PM
Hello Beaders,
I've found a product that cleans just about any tarnished jewelry it's called Tarn-X. Tarn-X is great for Sterling Silver,Silver Plate, Platinum,Copper,Gold,and cleans Diamonds and much more.Make sure your very careful when cleaning jewelry with raw stone or pearls, this also includes coral too.I dip my jewelry in tarn-X for only a second or two depending on how tarnished the jewelry is.If your jewelry has stones,
pearls or coral on it then use a small paint brush or a q-tip with Tarn-X on for shining the medal or spacers in between the beads.I clean all my jewelry over the kitchen sink with the warm water running, then I soap up the jewelry with a little bit of dish soap and rinse it off.Last of all dry your jewelry off with a soft cloth or(if your like me you may end up with odd white cotton socks, for some reason I never find the matching sock, save them to shine your jewelry.Last of all let your jewelry air dry on a paper towel.One last comment if you don't have time to let your jewelry air dry, you can take your hair dryer on low\warm heat and dry it off so the inside of the beads don't have any water left in them. You'll never believe how shiny your once tarnished jewelry will be.
Sincerely,
Bead Trade By Hannah LLC.
PatM@88 wrote
on Jan 5, 2008 10:31 AM
When I was in highschool we used clear fingernail polish to coat brass because funds were limited for ornamentation.
Has anyone discovered some similar coating that can be used on findings when one first sees signs of deterioration?
HannahB@15 wrote
on Jan 6, 2008 11:01 AM
Hello Beaders,
Another tip that I've found that works great is to save all of the little black squares from when you buy sterling jewelry. These squares are actually anti-tarnish paper that helps keep your findings from tarnishing if you keep them in a small ziplock bag.If you don't have any your local Bead Store may have the sheets available for you to buy and cut up.I save all of my little baggies I get in bead stores when I buy beads and put the little black squares in the bags with my medal findings. I also put the little anti-tarnish squares and my spacers in my small empty tubes I save from my seed beads.This keeps them from getting tarnished too. Always remember anything that is exposed to air will tarnish, no matter what kind of medal it is.

Sincerely, Bead Trade By Hannah LLC.(Inventor of the New Bead Trade Game)
HannahB@15 wrote
on Jan 6, 2008 11:01 AM
Hello Beaders,
Another tip that I've found that works great is to save all of the little black squares from when you buy sterling jewelry. These squares are actually anti-tarnish paper that helps keep your findings from tarnishing if you keep them in a small ziplock bag.If you don't have any your local Bead Store may have the sheets available for you to buy and cut up.I save all of my little baggies I get in bead stores when I buy beads and put the little black squares in the bags with my medal findings. I also put the little anti-tarnish squares and my spacers in my small empty tubes I save from my seed beads.This keeps them from getting tarnished too. Always remember anything that is exposed to air will tarnish, no matter what kind of medal it is.

Sincerely, Bead Trade By Hannah LLC.(Inventor of the New Bead Trade Game)
ChelP wrote
on Jan 8, 2008 7:37 PM
I have found that if you take the old time toothpaste the ones without the gel and gritty type works well. I dry with a towel and if there are any holes in them. I will blow through them and them let air dry. Chel
PamN@10 wrote
on Jan 8, 2008 8:16 PM
I have used Wrights silver cream for 10 years or so and it works great-it has never discolored any of my stones or messed up any silver or silver plated jewelery and it is available almost anywhere-grocery store/wal-marts etc. They have a website also: www,jawright.com