Thursday, June 6, 2013

Battle of the Jewelry Sealers

Like so many jewelry makers, I ran into a brick wall when it came to sealing my copper and silver jewelry pieces. It became a larger dilemma for me when I fell in love with the polymer clay beads from Fanceethat! You need to check them out...gorgeous!

I ordered the beads and made the bracelet you see here. It sold right away, which I was thrilled at but then I found myself in a quandary. I knew Lisa had sealed her beads and I knew what sealer I wanted to use to protect the natural patina of the copper, that beautiful and bright natural copper color, but would the two mix??

ProtectaClear by Everbrite has been my new favorite sealer for my Wire Helix Series. While I love Renaissance Wax and the protection it affords, it was really hard for me to reach all the little ins and outs of the delicate weaves and coils the Helix Series bracelets and necklaces have. That's why I've been using the ProtectaClear. I could spray or brush this tough coating on, and it provided me with the protection and finish I wanted. That little bit of shine isn't bad either.

Back to the bracelet shown above. Lisa used a water-based polyurethane to seal her polymer clay beads...and trust me, that is really great! I love the look it gives the beads, and Lisa knows what she's doing. I'm the one with the problem, remember? I am storing this bracelet in an anti-tarnish bag until I'm sure I've reached a solution that is good for the bracelet and good for the customer buying this piece of jewelry.

I decided to experiment on another bead I purchased from Fanceethat, with her permission and Everbrite's knowledge. I took this bead that had been coated with the water-based polyurethane, and put a coat of ProtectaClear on it. ProtectaClear is a resin or solvent-based sealer.

What that means to the layman is this: The water-based sealers begin to harden when the water evaporates. Of course, that is simplifying it by leaps and bounds. A solvent-based sealer begins the hardening or curing process when the solvent evaporates. The curing process of both goes through a series of chemical reactions that finish the curing of the sealer. Wikipedia offers the best full explanation of the process if you are interested.

Long story short...oil and water don't mix, usually. Even the kind folks at Everbrite, the creators of ProtectaClear, said I should proceed with caution because their finish could cause the other finish to crack or peal.

Hence, my experiment. What I did was give one side of the bead a coating of ProtectaClear to see what, if any, would be the reaction. To be honest, I thought when I first applied the ProtectaClear, the polyurethane finish would crack. However, it has been over and hour, and you can see from the pictures that it hasn' of yet.
Polyurethane coated side
ProtectaClear coated side
 I did my best to get them close to the same side...sorry bout that, but you can see only a slight difference as of now. The picture on the left shows the untouched bead side, while the picture on the right is slightly shinier but the surface of the bead, itself, has been unaffected so far.

It takes the ProtectaClear a little while to cure, so I am going to give it a while longer before I pass final judgement. I will poke it and scrape it with my fingernail, which you really "shouldn't" do to a bead like this, but I want it to be as thorough a test as I can with my limited knowledge and no real lab to work in.

So for now, it's later gator. I will let you know how this little experiment comes out. Send me your comments if you've experienced this yourself and we'll work it out together. Until next time (real soon), Stay Wired Up!! Gail


  1. Hi there.. I found your link on Google+ at, Artisans jewelry. I just wanted to say how impressive your work is. I do wire wraps myself but more rings than anyrhing. I went to your gallery site and found myself there for a while looking at all your incredible creations. I also payed attention to what you wrote above. I do a lot of copper work...I'll keep an eye on your blog to read the out come.

    1. Thanks! I am going to be testing lots of different materials over the next few weeks, like urethane and other waxes. There are lots of things that work for metals, but when you throw beads into the works, that is where it gets touchy. Thanks again!

  2. Gail, this bracelet is absolutely stunning! The question here is whether or not the polyurethane sealer will protect the clay and keep the solvent-based sealer from eating through to the clay. I don't have the answer to that. However, it is known that solvent-based sealers can take months to cause polymer clay to degrade and turn sticky, even when sprayed directly onto the clay.

    My wire-wrapping skills are nowhere near as sophisticated as yours, so this suggestion may not work. Could you cover the bead with wax paper, cling wrap, or aluminum foil while it's being wrapped and remove the covering after the spray sealer has dried?

  3. Hi, Linda! I will sure take that into account. I will be posting more about this very subject tomorrow and am hoping to talk to a chemist or two in the next week or so. The bead looks great now, but I need to give it more time before I pass judgment. I'm still trying to decide what to do with the bracelet. Your suggestions might just work. Thanks!

  4. Hi was wondering how your project turned out with the protectaclear over the polyurethane coating. I recently purchased a beautiful black rhodium plated sterling silver ring. I applied 2 coatings of minwax polyurethane gloss from an old can I had at home. After 3 days of curing wore the ring. Sure enough some tiny black specks came off. I thought back to what could have gone wrong and remembered there wasn't any odor at all when working with the minwax. I believe it didn't adhere because it was old.
    I just purchased protectaclear and would like to dip my ring in it without removing the old minwax surface. I'm afraid if I remove the minwax I will also damage the black rhodium plating. Am very interested in your results, thanks!

    1. Hey Susank, My name is Jeff and I have worked in the jewelry industry for over five years. The way jewelers re-apply the black rhodium is with a thing that looks like a massive black Sharpie.You can actually use a black Sharpie and touch up the black rhodium if you accidently do scratch it.

    2. Thanks for the tip, I guess I could do the same with a glossy charcoal gray or black enamel like testors.

    3. Jeff, do you know what kind of coating jewelers put on black rhodium plated jewelry to seal it in? I'd like to put protectoclear on top of my rhodium plated cheap rings I got on ebay.They are from China.. I'm assuming If there is a sealant I would need to remove it.

  5. Susank, I have had really good luck with ProtectaClear, but if it were me, I would contact the manufacturer to ask them about putting this over the minwax. Minwax is quite heavy and I'm not sure if the ProtectaClear can penetrate it without doing damage. The manufacturers are very nice and will most likely be able to answer you question on the phone. Give them a call first! Hugs!

  6. I loved your bracelet and wanted to check if it is still available for sale. If so please contact me at 310 978 5072.