Tumbling Gold and Silver Together

I've been doing a lot of chainmaille lately and I have found I prefer working with tumbled rings. I usually have enough components to tumble my gold-filled projects and my argentium silver projects separately, but can I put them together and expect the same results?

Stacy's Answer:

You can tumble the two metals together with no problems at all! I too prefer to tumble my rings before I incorporate them into a design as they are evenly polished and slightly work hardened by tumbling. I tumble mixed metals all the time with excellent results!

Comments for Tumbling Gold and Silver Together

Click here to add your own comments

Sep 28, 2010
thanks ... and regarding copper
by: Hippie Chick

I noticed you suggest tumbling copper. I've been wondering about that, too. The copper wire that I buy says tarnish-resistant and I know it has a finish on it of some kind. I've been reluctant to tumble it in fear that the finish would be gone and my customers would all turn green! ;) Sometimes I use the colored copper, and assumed the color would be polished off. I will probably experiment soon, if I don't hear from you. ;)

Stacy's Answer:

Although I don't personally use coated wire I know that most of the clear coated copper wire from craft stores has a very durable finish which is not affected by short stints in the tumbler. However, color coated copper wire can be damaged in the tumbler. Results vary from brand to brand. If in doubt, I'd do exactly what you're planning, which is to experiment with it a bit. Let us know what you find out!

Oct 05, 2010
tumbling colored copper
by: Anonymous

Thanks for the encouragement regarding the 'plain' copper. I have already tumbled it and it looks great, I'm glad to hear that no one should turn green (right away).

I also tumbled the colored copper. I use it less and less myself, but sometimes my students enjoy the the variety of colors at the price of copper. The cost of silver and gold does not encourage learn and practice. ;)

Anyway, the results were just fine. The rings firmed up, the edges smoothed the color stayed. I have noticed, however, that finer gauges of any wire are likely to get mangled.


Aug 01, 2014
using separate tumblers for metals
by: ntaus

I've been having problems with silver plating onto gold if I use a tumbler with stainless steel shot that has been processing sterling. It seems that I need a tumbler for each - and then another one for costume jewelry like brass or just general cleaning.

Any suggestions on how to get the silver residue off my gold?

I have plenty of tumblers but they've all been cleaning silver after Sparex treatment.

Basically, what I need is a way to clean my shot so it doesn't plate silver onto anything else. I have lots of shot but think it's all compromised with silver; it seems a bit much to have to buy more shot when I have so much.

Suggestions would be welcome...

Aug 06, 2014
Removing Silver Residue from Gold (using separate tumblers response)
by: Stacy

I have tumbled silver and gold together for many years and have never had the silver "transfer" itself onto the gold or any other metal. Yours is the first I'm hearing about this. Very thin gold plating will come off in a tumbler revealing the metal underneath. Copper oxides are easily removed with a super pickle. However, for removing a fine coating of silver? Polishing is probably your only choice. There may be some acid solutions you can use, but you risk damaging the gold.

There is an old trick for removing the silver sulphides from badly tarnished silver jewelry without using time-consuming polishes. I know from using this method of cleaning silver jewelry, that it will also sometimes lift the silver plate from some jewelry items, so perhaps it might work for you. I would try a small item and see what happens. Certainly, it can't be any worse that what you've got!

You need: aluminum foil, a little salt, baking soda and boiling water.

Line a heat-proof glass or plastic dish with aluminum foil. Cover the foil with a sprinkling of baking soda and salt. (less salt than soda) Add boiling water. The mixture will bubble because of the baking soda as the soda and salt dissolve in the hot water. Add your metal pieces.

Normally, the tarnish is removed because of an electrochemical reaction that causes the sulphur (tarnish) to transfer from the silver to the aluminum. This produces an sulfur smell. (bluh) As this method has lifted silver plate before, perhaps it will remove the very thin silver from your gold or perhaps make it very easy to wipe away using a polishing cloth. You'll have to experiment.

If not, certainly nothing lost......it just means you'll have to polish your pieces clean. Also, you may wish to try tumbling your gold pieces in a new barrel using new shot, by themselves, and see if the tumbling action removes the very fine layer of silver.

Click here to add your own comments

Return to Tumble Polishing Q & A.