Renaissance wax polish was developed by the boffins (English slang for scientists) at the British Museum in the 1950's. The natural waxes used for conserving museum exhibits unfortunately also contained acids which over time compromised the finishes of historic furniture collections.
So they came up with a new type of microcrystalline wax refined from crude oil which solved the problem. Since then other micro-crystalline waxes have appeared on the market and they are used to protect a wide range of materials including metals.
It's fine for museum exhibits of jewelry, armor and so forth but is it fine for jewelry that's worn and for the artisan who is working with it? Many artisans are already using renaissance wax to keep their metal jewelry shiny longer. They apply a very small amount and then buff the jewelry with a soft cloth.
I was curious as keeping my display jewelry tarnish free is such a chore. So I bought some. Then I looked more carefully at what it actually contained.
The one ingredient which made my eyebrows shoot up is benzene - less than 0.1% according to the Renaissance wax MSDS (materials safety data sheet).The benzene exists in the wax because it is petroleum based.
Benzene is a known carcinogen - it can cause cancer if someone is exposed to even small amounts of it for a long time. It's best avoided.
However, OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) considers a mixture to be a carcinogenic hazard if the component is present in concentrations of 0.1 % or greater. So Rennaissance wax is not considered carcinogenic by that criteria.
To put it into another perspective, most of our exposure to benzene is actually from breathing in car exhaust, tobacco smoke and industrial emissions. Did you know benzene concentrations are highest by urban roadsides?
Renaissance wax is thus fine to use. To be extra careful, apply it with gloves (preferably nitrile) on and in a ventilated place. Make sure the polished jewelry "airs" for a while, also in a ventilated environment. Benzene is highly volatile at room temperature. This means it will evaporate very quickly. This is what I do.
If you don't have or want to use it, try tumbling your finished sterling silver jewelry. Not only does tumbling shine up the pieces, small surface imperfections are removed. A smoother metal surface undergoes a slower tarnishing process.
Before you go:
- Cinnamon Oil, Bacterian Thieves' Oil and Jewelry
- Copper is Not Just for Jewelry
- Mexico's Deadly Giant Crystal Cave
- How to Tumble Polish and Harden Metal Jewelry
Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
Jewelry Making Tips - Jewelry Business Tips