Create a High Polish Finish on Sterling Silver

Create a High Polish Finish on Sterling Silver

The high polish finish is often a standard finish, the reasoning is that it can be done a few different ways. A high polish finish can be done using a tumbling machine, by hand, or a polishing wheel.  It’s a quick way to finish, and this is why it’s often a standard in so many components, it doesn’t take very long.  A standard in jewellery components, they have often been tumbled to achieve this finish. You can use a rotary tumbler to polish jewelry and to remove burrs from jump rings or other metal components.

Materials List

  • Small rotary tumbler and barrel.
  • Soap (not detergent). Ivory soap flakes are recommended.
  • Polished steel shot. You want enough to fill the barrel about halfway.



  • Pour the shot into a clean barrel to about the halfway mark.
  • Add enough water to cover the shot plus about 3/4 inch.
  • Add a tablespoon of soap flakes.
  • Load the jewelry and/or components into the barrel. You want them to be able to tumble, so pack them loosely.
  • Seal the barrel and let the tumbler rotate for 6-8 hours.
  • When the pieces are sufficiently polished, remove them from the tumbler and rinse them well with water.


Helpful Tips*

  • Keep your steel shot covered with soap and water. All it takes is a few hours exposed to air for the shot to develop rust.
  • Don’t polish more than one chain at a time unless you derive pleasure from untangling some serious knots. You can add other jewelry in with a chain (earrings, rings, components), just don’t polish chains together.
  • If you use the same barrel for jewelry as you use to polish rocks, make certain that the barrel is absolutely clean. Otherwise, you may find yourself scratching your jewelry rather than polishing it!
  • Remove chemical ‘antiquing’ before polishing. Otherwise, a chemical reaction can cause green deposits to coat nooks and crannies.
  • Use extreme care if you are polishing plated or filled components (e.g., silver-plated or gold-filled). You run the risk of wearing or chipping the outer layer of metal.
  • Don’t tumble components with stones, as they can become scratched or dislodged from their settings.
  • However you can take this to the next level, so it will be free of knick and scratches. If you have three different grades of emery or sand paper, and a rouge cloth you will be able to reach this yourself. A Rouge Polishing Cloth and it will really bring out that shine for your components.


When deciding on what finish to use, there’s no need to only use just one, be sure to mix up the finishes. Placing a high polish finish next to a brushed finish or even a satin finish can have a very beautiful effect and create a stunning and dynamic one of a kind piece.

*Credit to for information about tumbling jewellery