Every bench jeweler has experienced the frustration of trying to sand and polish a nearly inaccessible area on a piece of jewelry. The goldsmith who can detail these small corners and crevices can bring his or her work up to the level of fine jewelry. Anything that gives the work a cleaner, more attractive look translates into greater sales in the showcase.
One of my favorite “Sneaky Goldsmith Tricks” involves a lowly material not normally associated with making jewelry: fiberglass-reinforced packing tape, found in supermarkets and stationery and office supply stores. It contains many very fine fiberglass filaments that create a super-strong hold for packing parcels.
Bench jewelers use this tape to reinforce sanding and polishing papers. Once the tape is applied, the papers can be cut into small shapes that exactly fit the problem area you are trying to finish. (Cut the shapes you need with an old set of scissors — the abrasives will dull the blades over time.) These custom-shaped papers are flexible, easy to hold and can reach spots that files, gravers or traditional polishing tools may not.
We use the packing tape in GIA’s Jewelry Arts classes. We apply a piece of tape the same length as a jeweler’s saw blade to a strip of abrasive paper and then cut it into several narrow strips that fit the saw frame. This makes it possible for students to precision sand and polish internal edges and surfaces.