How to Polish Plated Metal
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. (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.
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!