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"Fishing tackle refinishing for jewelry use"

November 6, 2015

Q. I am an amateur who makes and sells jewelry out of fishing tackle. I use what are known as barrel swivels and they come in various sizes and finishes. After years of researching and experimenting, I believe I've exhausted my resources and am confident this is the best place for my search (most fishing tackle supply places have better things to do than answer questions about metal content and coatings for ten-cent components.) I think they are made of brass and are available in two colours, "gold" and "silver." The "silver" usually end up looking almost black or in a brighter, more chrome-like. The latter is difficult to find. Sourcing larger quantities from Chinese suppliers makes it hard to specify the finish I'm after.

Here are photos of the parts I'm talking about in my RFP.
1. The most common dark look of barrel swivels.
2. The most common "gold" (brass?) look of fishing tackle.
3. The harder to find "silver" look I like.
4. The shinier "gold" look - too shiny for me.
5. I like these "22k gold-plated" beads I've gotten from Turkey. One seems to be a light plastic, the other metal. I want this on my "gold" barrel swivels. It's also got the matte I'd like for my final "silver" swivels.

60037-1a  60037-1b

My question is two-fold: what are these pieces made of and how can I change their appearance in a way that will not flake off or change colour easily. I charge enough for my finished pieces that customers expect something more than what they can find in grandpa's old tackle box. Someday, in fact, I'd like to make these components out of stainless^sterling silver.

I'd like to process a few hundred at a time, so if I can do it at home, it shouldn't be too time consuming or dangerous. If I can outsource it, I need to start out with something inexpensive.

I hope I've provided the details your looking for. I'll send as many images as I can to illustrate my request and thank you. This website is fascinating and encouraging.

Sari Gordon
Amateur craftsperson - Ellsworth, Wisconsin, US

November 7, 2015

thumbs up signI have no idea what "stainless silver" is. It was late and my brain unfriended me. I meant sterling silver.

Sari Gordon [returning]
Amateur craftsperson - Ellsworth, Wisconsin, US

November 20, 2015

A. Sari,

Try a magnet to the parts. If it sticks hard, the parts are probably plated steel. If you get a light pull, they are likely to be nickel plated. They could be brass, but coming out of China I would guess zinc. Easy to tell one from the other -- scratch or otherwise break through the plating and see what color the base metal is.

If your customers are looking for a quality finish, I would suggest you look into PVD coating the parts. Easy if they are brass or steel, but might be a bit of an issue if they are zinc, but doable. PVD gives you a wide range of finishes, all of which are extremely durable. This cannot be done at home -- it requires very expensive equipment, and is a batch process so you'll want to run large lots at a time. Minimum lot charges run in the $250-$500 range.

jim treglio portrait
Jim Treglio - scwineryreview.com
PVD Consultant & Wine Lover - San Diego, California

November 25, 2015

thumbs up signI want to say thank you for the very helpful response. Just what I was looking for and I know I'll use it when the time comes,


SARI GORDON [returning]
- Ellsworth, Wisconsin, US

November 27, 2015

Strip the lacquer off, and patina with some liver of sulfur...relieve with a bit of worn out 600 wet/dry sandpaper.

Or, strip lacquer and immersion plate with some silver nitrate solution. Then, relieve, etc.

dave wichern
Dave Wichern
Consultant - The Bronx, New York

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