When polishing metals, traditionally jewellers would have used Tripoli, a rouge for polishing precious metals. Now, companies like Dialux offer a range of different products for different metals and finishes.
Dialux polishing compounds are made in Germany. They are a premium polishing compound and a firm favourite for all those looking for a superior finish to their work. They are very popular with jewellers and watchmakers the world over.
They come in small bars consisting of a compound which is uniformly blended with abrasive grit. Rather like sandpaper, by varying the size of the particles and the material, you can create different levels of abrasiveness and, therefore, different finishes on different materials.
The below Dialux Polishing Chart shows the different polishes and tells you what material it's suitable for and the level of finish you will get.
It's important to say that the chart gives a guideline only. Do experiment and see what works for you. For example, you may have a piece of nine-karat gold hammered or put through a rolling mill, which may be quite hard. In this case, you might want to use a harsher compound. Or you may have a thin 22-karat gold ring that is very soft. In this instance, you may wish to use a more gentle polish.
How to Use Polishing Compounds
Start with an even sanded surface. I like to sand down using a Sander Roll, drum or a Horotec Buff Stick, ensuring you have removed any dents, tool marks, or deep scratches. Next, apply a small amount of your chosen Dialux compound to a felt bob, cotton buff, calico wheel, belt or wheel.
Pre-polishers are the most abrasive and will remove small scratches left over from your buff stick.
The Yellow Dialux (DLUXY) is a pre-polish for non-ferrous and softer metals such as Bronze, tin, zamak, aluminium alloys and copper and also for use on plastics. Use this prior to final polishing with Blue Dialux (DLUXB). The yellow also works well with silver and gold.
The Grey Dialux (DLUXG) bar is quite aggressive, and I like that in a pre-polish. It’s great for removing scratches, particularly platinum and stainless steel. Follow this up with Green Dialux (DLUXV)
Orange Dialux or Vornex (DLUXO) is designed for use on steel and stainless steel as a pre-polisher.
- Go slow. As a pre-polish is more abrasive than the other bars in the Dialux range, keep the speed slow to reduce friction heat.
- Once you've removed all your sanding marks, clean your piece of work.
- It's important that you remove all traces of the previous polish.
- Keep all your mops separate, and don't allow any cross-contamination, especially on your final finishing mops, or you won't get the desired effect.
After your pre-polish, use a polish to achieve a shine.
Within the Dialux range, you have a few choices depending on your material.
The White Dialux (DLUXW) are great for silver and gold. Also, for final polishing of plastics. Blue Dialux (DLUXB) is also great for silver and gold.
If you finish off with a soft cotton mop or buff, you may find with silver and gold that the white is sufficient on its own.
Grey Dialux (DLUXG) is designed for polishing stainless steel. It's useful to have this in your workshop, and even if you don't specifically work with steel, it's great for polishing tools such as bench blocks, punches, and hammer faces. Use with a felt wheel or bob
Final Polish: Mirror Finish
So now you've pre-polished and polished, and this may be sufficient, but when working with silver and gold jewelry, you really want that extra sparkle.
Black Dialux (DLUXN) is widely used by silversmiths and will give a great result on silver. Use it with a very soft cotton buff.
Red Dialux (DLUXR) is similar to traditional rouge and is, therefore, another ideal alternative for silver and gold. Again, using a soft mop
Blue Dialux (DLUXB) is a more general finished polish and, therefore, ideal for non-precious metals such as copper, tin and brass, for instance. Use this after pre-polishing with Yellow Dialux (DLUXY)
Green Dialux (DLUXV) is a final polish designed for hard metals such as steel and platinum. Use after pre-polishing with Grey Dialux (DLUXG).
White Dialux (DLUXW) is a general final polish for most metals and plastics.
If you prepare your pieces well, then you should only need two or three polishes to get a great finish.
Dave Wilson of Celtic Dreams had this to say about them:
“Personally, for gold, I use yellow, white, and red. For silver, I again use yellow or sometimes grey if I want something tougher, and then white and black. I like the size of these little bars. I think they're small enough for use for the pendant drill but still big enough for use on the bench polisher too. They're not too greasy, so they're very easy to clean up in between stages with warm, soapy water. I think they're great value, and from what I can see, they offer a good, consistent, streak-free finish. So personally, I highly recommend the Dialux range of solid polishing compounds.”