Polishing and Finishing
When polishing, you cannot skip steps or cut corners, it is a long process and jewellery takes time to clean and polish. Even if you are silver or gold plating the finished piece, it must not have scratches otherwise it will show up in the plating process, as I found out myself.
The first step of polishing is to put it in the magnetic polisher to clean the piece and get into all the difficult places (10 to 30 minutes), for example a square cast ring. It is very difficult to try and get into the setting itself. The magnetic polisher will clean and get into all the gaps. It is not advised to put finished jewellery in the magnetic polisher as its harsh on the metal and can damage soft stones, such as, Opals, Emeralds and Pearls, stones that are sensitive to heat.
Cut the sprue off and file down to the ring with a relevant file for the job. Put the ring on a ring mandrel and hammer with a rawhide hammer to avoid dents, and to make it perfectly round. Flatten the shank if needed, by using a planishing hammer on a steel block.
It is important to go through all grades of sand paper, the best way to sand through the grades is by making buff sticks. Depending on how deep the scratches are in the piece, depends on which grade of sand paper you start with. To make emery buff sticks, take a piece of wood or an old buff stick and wrap emery paper around it, scoring and folding tightly as you go along. Secure with masking tape to the bottom. When one side is worn, just tear it off to reveal the fresh piece underneath. The score line will easily tear the paper. Label the biff sticks from one to six, the lower the number, the coarser the emery paper.
You could start lower but generally P600 is a good start. These Buff Sticks will help with all your work, to polish anything and everything. You can also make emery disks from different grades of emery paper to use on your pendant motor to reach the harder places. Simply cut circles from your emery paper, place in the pendant motor, trim the edges with a sharp scalpel and buff away.
Roll sanders are the best things to sand the inside of rings, that come in different grades, P600 being the finest. You could also make half round buff sticks to sand inside if you do not have a pendant motor. You should always keep the roll sanders moving as they can tend to fly away and scratch your work with the edge of their metal centre rod. They also do the same on flat surfaces, they are better used for rounded pieces.
When the piece is buffed and has no visible scratches, you can polish it with Hi-fin and Rough Polish. If you’re polishing with large mops on the polishing machine, you should polish the inside of the ring with your small mops on your pendant motor as the large mops can’t get to the inside. You must use Hi-fin first as a based polish, degrease the piece in the ultrasonic so that you do not contaminate your mops, then polish with Rouge for the final finish before degreasing again in the ultrasonic (it shouldn’t be too hot). you could also use a very fine toothbrush with the ultrasonic water to clean the rouge polish if it isn’t coming off. You could give it a quick polish with a silver cloth, not to leave fingerprints on the polished surface. When you think, you’ve finished polishing, place the piece on white paper, this will show up all scratches and fire stain that you may have missed.
When you’ve finished polishing, it’s worth asking yourself, “Would I pay money for this?” because if you doubt yourself, the customer will have doubts in buying the piece