In relationship to jewelry and the jewelry community as a whole, the conundrum seems to be “to seal or not to seal.” I didn’t seal my jewelry for a long time, but my love for the art and comments from customers about tarnish led me to seek out a product I could seal with that wouldn’t ruin what I made. I have used ProtectaClear for about 6 years now. I did a copper test when I lived in Florida, one of the most humid states in the US, and blogged about that in 2013. That was a really long time ago, so I should probably do it again. Now, I’m in Texas, another super humid state. More on that later.
So…since Gary and I RV full time in a 38-foot fifth wheel, space is hard to come by. This little area is the space I use to seal my jewelry. I usually only seal one to 10 pieces at a time, depending on what I am working on, so this space works well. I have about 26 inches by 20 inches to work with. See, you don’t need a huge work room to get this done.
This is what you need to get started: a couple old towels, and three or four layers of wax paper. Make sure your towels are large enough to cover the area you want to protect, in case of splashes. I’ll explain that in a minute. The wax paper keeps your jewelry from sticking after it’s been dipped.
You will also want to make yourself a good hook, similar to the one shown. I use 18 gauge Half Hard copper wire and put a few bends in it just to strengthen it a little. You want it to be six to 8 inches long, depending on the container you use for your ProtectaClear.
(Don’t forget, you can click on the pictures to enlarge them.)
NOTE: Paper towels, you will need lots of paper towels! You should have about 4 layers close to your jar, as shown.
Here you can see my entire set up. It all fits well into the small space and is efficient. I found a glass jar at a hobby shop that has a wide mouth, a little over four inches at the top when open. It allows me to put a large cuff or pendant right down into the ProtectaClear. I try to keep enough ProtectaClear in the jar to cover an average bracelet.
One thing to remember is that ProtectaClear is a “solvent based” sealer. What that means to you is this product can dissolve certain things…like plastic gloves or a plastic container. Use a glass jar. The annoying part is that the only type of rubber gloves your can wear that won’t dissolve are too bulky to use in this process. So, I use blue Nitrile gloves, as they are a little stronger than latex or common household rubber gloves. Those go away quickly. Even though the Nitrile will also dissolve, they do so slower than the others and I wear them mainly to protect my hands and my lovely blue fingernails. I do, however, try to avoid contact with the ProtectaClear as much as I can. Hence, the creation of the copper hook.
Anyhoo, this is my setup and what I use. I would preface your use of this product by reading all the product knowledge base on the Everbrite Coating website before you begin. It will save you a lot of headaches and questions later on. If you do run into issues, give them a call. It’s a family owned business and they are super helpful.
My project: I recently sold this bracelet that has been in storage for a while and even though it had one coat of ProtectaClear, it did tarnish. I had also tried polishing it with a recommended paste polish. I cannot stress enough that if you weave wire and do so very tightly, not to use a paste or polish that could dry in the cracks. Getting that out is a nightmare. Everbrite has some new products to polish on their site I haven’t used, so if you are brave enough to try them before I do, go for it.
What I did to clean this bracelet up without ever getting it damp in any way, shape, or form, is to use my Dremel and some of the 3M colored polishing wheels. It took me about 5 minutes with a 200 grit and here is the result. I know, right??? Amazingly clean, and no acid to worry about having to neutralize before I seal. BTW, if you use something acidic based to clean your jewelry before sealing, ya gotta neutralize that acid in a soda bath and dry it completely before sealing. Any moisture or acid will be trapped under the sealer, and you have tarnish…under the sealer.
We are ready to seal. I do not recommend the Spray sealer. Tried it and it does not level out good enough to make a good seal on woven wire. Especially on tightly woven wire. And…unless you want a dull finish, do not use the Satin finish sealer. They do make one, but again, I don’t recommend it for jewelry for two reasons. 1) it’s dull, and 2) you have to stir that stuff all the time to keep the finish even. If you’ve ever used satin sealer on your furniture, you know what I mean. Use the regular clear ProtectaClear, made specifically for Jewelry.
Take your hook and place it somewhere around the piece you will be dipping where the hook won’t get stuck, and slowly lower your piece into the ProtectaClear. I must make a note here, or I would be amiss. Do not use this product on soft stones, i.e pearls, Rainbow Calsilica, and others with a MOH’s hardness rating of less than 4.5. You can test a piece if you like, just to see what happens, but don’t do it on a finished piece of jewelry, please. I’ve had great success on most stones. I did have a Jade that became a little discolored, but it didn’t hurt the stone itself. Use your best judgement. Nothing soft and noting porous. Oh, and beware if you’re using dyed stones. If you don’t know if they are dyed, once you dip them, you will. Most dyes will bleed into the ProtectaClear. Remember…solvent based sealer! Okay, nuff said for now.
I put the whole bracelet down into the liquid and let it sit for a minute, and you can wiggle it around with your hook to make sure everything gets covered.
Using your hook, bring the piece up and out of the jar, holding it over the opening so it can drain. Try not to drop it back into the liquid…you get splashes that way, and you will be wiping them off of yourself and your work space…or they will harden and become part of whatever they are on. Yes, I still have a drop stuck to my counter top, but so far my husband hasn’t noticed it.
Once the dripping slows down, we don’t want to waste the ProtectaClear, gently set your piece down on your layers of paper towels to soak up a little of the excess. Don’t let it stay on the paper towel but just a few seconds, just long enough to soak up a little extra liquid. We want most of it to stay on your jewelry. You can quickly flip it over if you want, too. ProtectaClear is a self leveling product and will not develop drip marks. At least I have never had this happen.
On that note, when dipping pendants, role up one end of your towels and wax paper to make a little angle, and place your pendants on that incline. That way, the excess will run down hill., and can be toweled up with a paper towel after it has sat for a while. You should never notice a drip mark.
Now that you’ve done that, remember, no longer than a couple seconds, move your jewelry to the wax paper. as shown here.
Check your jewelry after about 15 minutes. You will notice that some of the ProtectaClear has drained off and began to pool. You can use your hook and push your jewelry to another area on the wax paper. You can now use some paper toweling to mop up the extra ProtectaClear. Be careful not to touch the front surface of your cabochon or stone while it’s drying. Now is a good time to turn your piece over, too.
According to the Everbrite Coating website, it should only take less than a day to dry. I usually let my pieces finger dry ( dry to the touch ), and then re-dip them, and go through the process again. This time, I let them dry overnight in a safe, dry, spot, or for at least 24 hours before shipping. The product has to “cure.” You can read more about that on the manufacturer’s website. Once cured, you will have a lovely shiny product you will be proud to share with your customers, family, or friends.
***Remember, too…this is a chemical product. If you can’t ship it to a PO Box, which you cannot, you know it isn’t safe to have around young children or where pets can get into it. The paper towels should be thrown away in a safe place, and you should use this product in a ventilated area. Take care of yourself, too. Don’t hold your head over the jar and breathe in the fumes while you are working! The chemical Data Sheet is listed on Everbrite Coating’s website, if you care to read it.
Once dried, it is non-toxic and clear, and I have yet to find someone who cannot wear jewelry sealed with this product, but that does not mean it can’t happen.
Also, just because your product has been sealed, does not mean, that if in the right environment, your item cannot still tarnish. Never guarantee the item will not tarnish. People do weird things with their jewelry, and there is always that person out there that sets out to prove you wrong. Just food for thought.
I hope this article has been helpful to you if you’ve been considering using the ProtectaClear product. I, personally, love it, and will continue to talk about it and use it. Feel free to message me with jewelry-related questions, but direct your chemistry questions to the company, please.
Have a wonderful day, and please…Stay Wired Up!!! gail