There are many more ways of finishing off a piece of work than by polishing. This is often an appropriate way to complete a piece, but there are lots of interesting ways of texturing the surface of the metal to make it reflect the light in different ways, to emphasize particular parts of the piece or to give a crisp, sharp look to a piece of modern jewelry.
When you are designing a piece, take the finished appearance into account from the start, because texture and surface finish are often added before the piece is assembled or soldered.
All kinds of interesting shapes and patterns can be imprinted on metal by passing it through a rolling mill with fabric, patterned metal, paper, absorbent cotton, or even string. The rollers are made of stainless steel, and you must be careful that you do not use anything that will mark them, or every piece that you subsequently pass through them will be spoiled. Although the rollers can be reground professionally, this is both expensive and inconvenient.
Using a flexible shaft machine
Apart from all its other uses, a flexible shaft machine can be fitted with a variety of shaped and graded metal burls, cutters, and grinders.
Before you work on a carefully finished piece, try out the different burls and cutters on pieces of scrap metal so that you learn to control the tool. You will find that it slips quite easily.
When you use a flexible shaft machine to add texture, take as much care as you do when you are polishing. Tie back long hair and fold back loose sleeves. Always wear goggles to protect your eyes.
Texturing after polishing
Some textures are applied when everything else on a piece has been finished. If a stone has been included, you must take extra care.
To achieve a successful textured finish, all scratches, file marks, solder marks, and so forth must be removed first.
Finishing a mixed-metal surface
When one metal or more has been inlaid or added to another, a highly polished finish can lessen the impact of the color contrast. A matte surface, on the other hand, may enhance the difference.
One way of highlighting the change in color is by polishing the piece to a gloss finish. Clean away the excess polish, rinse and dry, then heat the pieces with a gentle flame until it begins to oxidize. Quench it when it has cooled a little. Place the piece in a warm solution of sulfuric acid for a minute or two, remove, rinse, and dry. Lightly repolish the piece, then reheat and proceed as before. After repeating the polishing, heating, pickling, and rinsing process three or four times, the piece can be finally reheated. If the contrasting metal looks better oxidized, the piece needs no further treatment. Otherwise, pickle it in warm acid, rinse, and dry.
Re-texturing after assembly
When a piece of metal has been textured before assembly, part or all of the texture may be accidentally removed when you are cleaning and filing around soldered joints. Clearly, it is best to try to avoid this altogether by using the minimum amount of solder necessary for the job, but if it does happen, try re-creating the texture by placing the texturing material you used originally on the work and tapping a small, flat-headed planishing punch around the affected area. If the texture was originally created by direct hammering, use a small, shaped punch.
A piece of jewelry with a textured finish can be given extra definition by highlighting edges or high spots with a burnisher.