Polishing precious metal jewellery pieces requires a little knowledge about different types of polishing compounds and buffing tools, and even more practice in order to get the technique just right. But, with some basic know-how and the supplies you’ll need to create a professional finish, the process will soon become second nature. Here’s what you need to know to get started.
Polishing Compounds: Back to basics
What is polishing compound used for?
All polishing compounds and jeweller’s rouge are commonly used to smooth precious metals and gradually polish them to a high shine for a clean, professional finish. Also known as buffing compounds, polishing compounds are commonly sold as solid bars and, when used in conjunction with a buffing mop, help you to finish your precious metal jewellery pieces to a high standard with a professional shine.
How to choose the right polishing compound
When you’re looking for the right polishing compounds for your latest projects, you’ll find that there is a large range to choose from. This is because different polishing compounds have varying functions. Much like sand paper, polishing compounds will vary in their coarseness, from very coarse to very fine. Each polishing compound can be used in turn throughout the smoothing and polishing process in order to achieve the results you’re looking for. Using each buffing compound in turn, starting with the coarsest and moving through to a finer compound, you can slowly eliminate imperfections and polish your piece to a high shine.
How to apply rubbing compound to your buffing wheel
You can apply polishing compound to your buffing wheel by spinning the wheel slowly and simply pressing the compound against the wheel as it turns. There is no need to apply a lot of pressure – the spinning wheel will be enough to coat it sufficiently in the polishing compound. Apply a small amount of the polishing compound to the wheel as you can always add more as you polish, and you may find that too much of the compound will leave your jewellery piece greasy and more difficult to work with.
Which metal polishing compounds should I be using?
There are many polishing compounds on the market to choose from and you may find that you want to trial different brands to see which gives you the best result for your particular designs. Some designers rely on Dialux compounds, while others prefer to use Menzerna – it really is a case of trial and error.
One of the benefits of using Menzerna is the fact that they have their own guide on polishing stages, helping you decide which compound to use according to which stage of the polishing process you’re in. The Menzerna products are precise in their purpose and can give you a good indication as to whether or not that particular compound will be right for your project and the desired finish you want to create.
Different types of Menzerna polishing compounds
The following is a short guide on the latest Menzerna buffing compounds from the coarsest right through to the finer compounds – this should help you choose which compounds are right for your next projects, depending on the material you’re using, the state that the metal is currently in, and the kind of finish you want to create.
The Heavy Cut range of polishing compounds is a good choice if you’re working with unfinished precious metals or brass and require a very high level of abrasiveness in order to achieve a smooth finish.
- 456G – Grey compound best used for pre-polishing stage with a Calico or Reflex mop on stainless steel, non-ferrous and precious metals.
The medium cut range of Menzerna polishing compounds are great all-rounders. With a lower level of abrasiveness, they provide less cutting ability and more polishing ability. The extra grease is particularly helpful with thinner pieces of metal where keeping the metal cool can be an issue.
- P164 – Blue polishing compound best used for polishing stages, with a Calico or Reflex mop on aluminium, stainless steel, all precious and non-ferrous metals.
With the Menzerna Finish and Super Finish products, you can expect to create a highly professional shine to your pieces, with a light but consistent polishing compound and much higher grease content.
- P275 – Yellow polishing compound best used for pre-polishing/finishing stages with a cotton or wool buff on stainless steel and precious metals.
- P175 – Yellow super fine polishing compound best used for a high shine, mirror finish with a soft cotton or wool buffing wheel on aluminium, and all brass and non-ferrous metals.
There is an art to using polishing compounds and it takes some time to get it just right – but with the right jewellery polishing tools to hand, you’ll find that your technique improves given time, and regular practice. The important thing to remember when polishing jewellery is not to rush the process. Take each Menzerna polishing product in turn and use each of them for their intended purpose depending on the metal you’re using, the amount of scratches or damage it has on its surface, and what kind of finish you would like to have.
Need to stock up on metal buffing compounds? Take a look at our Menzerna polishing compounds as well as our other polishing materials, mops, buffers and tools that will help you create professional jewellery pieces with a lasting shine.