White goo on turquoise beads

I ordered some turquoise beads from a lady the other day. It was a necklace that was strung on fishing wire with a simple knot at the end. My goal is to re-use the beads. When they arrived i thought they were a bit dirty, so i soaked them for about 2 hours in water with a drop of soap. Now that they have dried, they have some kind of white goo on 'em. Reminds me of talcum powder a bit. It comes of quite easy with a toothpick, but i’m afraid that it might take quite some effort to clean everything properly. What could this this stuff be, perhaps residue from polishing powder? I cracked one bead open and the color does go all the way through, so i’m guessing
it isn’t dyed howlite (residue). Anybody seen this before?

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Yes, polishing residue. They were not rinsed well after polishing. It is almost impossible to remove, other than by hand.

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Dilute ammonia with water and Dawn typically dissolves rouge and other jewelers polishes. I would test a piece, see how readily it dissolves keeping it in ammonia no longer than it takes, rinse and dry. Examine the stone to see if there is any issue from the ammonia.

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Does this work for lapidary polishes?
I was given some polished rocks that have dried, white polish in some areas. The stuff is like concrete, lol.

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Thank you for your advice @fernwood and @StevesTrail . I’ll do a little test with diluted ammonia first, i read elsewhere that people sometimes heat that to just below boiling point for better results. In case that fails i’ll have an evening with the toothpick ahead of me

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Cerium oxide is typically used as a final lapidary polish. Simply water soluble. No need for ammonia with it, just soaking in water. But it’s a tan color usually.

I use a toothbrush with the ammonia solution.

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Hi Bluegreen. Late to the thread, but as Steve has pointed out, this looks like residue from tumbling.

During the tumbling process the tumbling media breaks down and mixes with residue from whatever it is one is tumbling. Normally, you have some sort of flow through system to wash this residue away durning the the tumbling process, however if no flow though system is present, you’ll get a heavy, sticky ‘mud’ stuck in recessed areas and crevices. That’s likely what this is.

Unfortunately, dawn and water alone may not be enough to remove it once it has ‘set’. If you have an ultrasonic cleaner at home for jewelry, I’d first let the nuggets soak in a a solution of dawn, ammonia, and water overnight, transfer that solution to your ultrasonic, and let the ultrasonic do it’s magic to break up and dislodge the ‘crud’.

The other alternative would be to tumble it further for 12 - 24 hours in a vibratory tumbler with super fine pyramid media, and a flow through system.

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Thanks for the explanation.
My experiences is to go back to medium grit, say 400-600.
then do the remaining stages, pre-polish at 600-800, second pre-polish 1200, and then final polish of about 10,000.
That polish residue is a pain in a half to get rid of.

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Thanks for the in dept explanation @mmrogers . Would have loved to be a fly at the wall during that process.

I don’t have the tools you mentioned at hand, so i ended up doing it by hand. Very labor intensive, but i had the time and needed to practice anyway.

Soaking worked fine for bigger, smooth surfaces, but inside the nooks and crannies was a different story.
What i did was first soaking, then removing remaining dirt with a toothpick, then use a dremel with a soft brush wheel for further dirt removal and to try and warm up and ‘revive’ the polishing residue. And finally another double check with the toothpick. Now they are soaking some more in water with soap. Eventually i will still have to retouch little bits of matrix here and there (like where the arrow is in the photo). Probably will use matching markers or try shoe polish for that. All in all i am quite happy with how everything went

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By the way, i wonder if they could be American turquoise. If i compare them with photos of Kingman or Red Mountain nuggets for instance i do sometimes see a resemblance

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Impressive…what a _ _ _ _ - ton of work. Good on you for “sticking” to it.

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Thanks, yes it was quite brutal, about 11 hours of work i think. But i enjoyded doing it. What’s really crazy is that it was in vain because i decided to let the beads soak some more in water and voila, the white stuff was back again with a vengeance. It must have gotten into the matrix or something, and my guess is that the water pulls it out somehow. Eventually i will get them clean, one way or the other, 'cause i do like these little beads a lot.

Also, and this might sound stupid, but after looking at this goo-ey stuff for 24 hours i wanted to relax a little and look at some similar ‘correct’ nugget beads. Well, i started seeing this white stuff everywhere. I wonder if the ‘blackening the matrix’ with shoe polish etc. might have originated from this issue.

Some examples:

Looks like polish residue to me.
If rocks with small pits are polished in a rock tumbler, some residue may stay in the mall pits/cracks.
I usually wash well after final polish. Then tumble the rocks again for 2-12 hours in a solution of Borax and water. Will use a soft toothbrush to do a final cleaning if needed.
Once dry, most polish is extremely tough to remove.

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