Tumbling jewelry is the most popular and common method used by many people to clean their jewelry and harden wire or metal used in the jewelry. There are many different types on the market and range from side rotary barrels to vibrating bowl tumblers. But with so many different machines on the market, which ones are the best or most effective? I suggest first to ask around and get advice from fellow artisans, jewelry makers, silversmiths, and wire workers. As these individuals use tumblers on a daily and weekly basis and can give first hand experience/knowledge to the pros and cons in the use of their type of tumbler and method. There are many on the market and is just depends on how much and what you are doing as to what is your preference.
By tumbling the jewelry, it accomplishes several things; first it cleans the pieces and second it polishes or hardens the metals. I mentioned that there are two types, vibrating/bowl and rotary/barrel tumblers. They all come in a variety of sizes and capacity levels; depending on how much jewelry you are going to put in, depends on what type of tumbler you plan to buy. Do your research and make sure the capacity of the one you chose will do the job without marring, mangling or even breaking your jewelry.
With either of these methods, you will be using a type of tumbling media. Be sure to check that your tumbler can use water (mix in a drop of dish soap) or uses mixed stainless steel media. With the use of dish soap, this acts as a detergent that is good at lifting oil and grim from the surfaces of stones and gets into the small pockets of metals.
Once you have chosen and purchased your tumbler, use these easy tips with your jewelry.
*Put your jewelry in the bowl or barrel
*Add water to about 1” above the jewelry
*Add a drop of dish soap and put the lid back on, tighten and then turn it on
If using a barrel or tumbler that uses dry mix and no water, and then add a hand full of stainless steel mix or what is best for your tumbler, close and tighten lid, turn on.
I’ve found that many people will tumble their jewelry for different times. This is again your preference and will take some trial and error to determine what is best for you. Most people will suggest from 15 minutes to several hours. Depending on what I’m tumbling, I will do between 15-20 minutes, this has been best for my jewelry and tumbler.
Once complete, then pull your jewelry from the tumbler, rise in warm water and dry with a clean soft towel. I then will lay the jewelry out and allow to fully ‘air’ dry for several hours or over night.
Make sure to clean out and maintain the tumbler which ever kind you purchase. Check with the manufacturer for their cleaning and maintenance tips.
Good luck and happy tumbling!