How To Tumble Crystals [Process Explained]

Are you interested in learning more about tumbled stones, but you have no idea where to start? This guide will cover everything you need to know about tumbled stones and the process which is needed to make them.

So, if you want to learn about the definition of tumbled stones, what materials you will need to tumble stones, how you go about tumbling stones, how these tumbled stones get used, and what treatments are used on them, then this article will have all the information you need to know!

How To Tumble Crystals [Process Explained]

What Are Tumbled Stones/Crystals?

If you did not know, a tumbled stone, or tumbled crystal is usually a small and rounded stone which is heavily polished. They are made from standard pieces of rocks or minerals.

The normal way to make a tumbled stone is to put your raw rough rocks in a rock tumbler, which you can get in a variety of sizes to get the one which best suits your needs.

This machine, as the name suggests, will tumble these rocks until the rough edges get smoothed, and the surfaces are polished.

While you will usually hear people referring to these as tumbled stones, you can also hear them being called; ‘tumbled gems’, ‘polished stones’, ‘polished rocks’, or occasionally ‘baroque gems’.

So, there is a likelihood that something is a tumbled stone even if it is not labelled as this.

These tumbled crystals are incredibly popular because of how accessible they are, but also how they are beautiful and made from natural materials. They are fun to collect as well, and rock tumbling is not too difficult of an interest to get into.

You can find these stones being sold at New Age markets, craft fairs, souvenir shops, and occasionally by jewelers. You can even purchase tumbled stones in large quantities, so these are not super expensive.

Because of how beautiful they are, they have managed to inspire a lot of people to get interested in minerals.

What Materials Do You Need When Making Tumbled Stones?

When making a tumbled stone you will want to use rocks which are of course colorful or attractive to you, but to get the best results you will want to use a stone which is between 5 and 8 on the Mohs hardness scale.

This scale is used to measure the hardness of different materials, with 1 being very soft, and 10 being incredibly hard.

The reason these are the stones which you want to use when tumbling crystals is because they are the more durable stones which will get a good polish when being tumbled as well.

If you are unsure whether a certain rock is appropriate for tumbling, just search online its name and tumbling and you will see results telling you if it will work!

How Do You Make Tumbled Stones?

As we mentioned before, a tumbled stone is made in a device which is called a rock tumbler which is used almost exclusively for this purpose. The most common type of rock tumbler which you will find is a rotary style machine.

This device will have a barrel, and in this barrel you will have stones which you are trying to polish as well as a specific type of abrasive grit depending on the type of results you want, as well as water.

Then you will turn on the machine to spin these 3 together in the barrel for an extended period of time, but usually it will be days at a time, if not weeks at a time. 

While the rocks are tumbling in this barrel, the grit which you have chosen will get caught on the rock and this will take off the edges and sharper points of the minerals.

This is the first step, and it is what will change the shape of the rock into a pleasant rounded shape without any sharper edges.

After this you will want to use smaller granules instead of an abrasive grit, these are usually made from a silicon carbide material and it is used for smoothing the reshaped rocks.

How To Tumble Crystals [Process Explained]s

This smoothing will not polish the rocks, but is instead preparing it for being polished. So, as you can imagine, the next step of the process is to add the rocks back in with a rock polish which is usually an incredibly fine aluminum oxide.

This polish will give you a beautiful lustrous polish on your crystals or stones. To complete this process, you will need at least a few weeks to get everything done.

It is common for people to buy rock tumblers for reselling purposes, but just as many people buy these rock tumblers as a hobby. As mentioned earlier, you can find a wide variety of rock tumblers on the market.

You can find a more inexpensive rock tumbler which is made from plastic, but this will likely be quite loud, and the rocks produced might not be that attractive or high quality. Instead, we recommend, getting a metal machine which has rubber barrels.

This is the type of rock tumbler used by those who are more serious about rock tumbling, and because of this, they usually get the best results. Machines like this will usually be able to tumble more rocks at a time, between a few ounces or a few pounds of rocks at a time.

If you are looking to commercially produce tumbled rocks, you can find machines which are able to tumble a couple tons of rocks at the same time.

Companies who do this will usually buy tons of rough rocks from sellers, and this lets them produce tumbled rocks at a low enough price to beat our competitors, so if you are a hobbyist, you will likely never be able to undersell a commercial machine and make a profit.

So, if you just want tumbled stones, you can usually get them cheap, instead of by making them yourself, so if you want to tumble stones, do not try and start making money right away.

If you are looking into getting in tumbling your own rocks, you should hopefully be able to find the raw rocks in nature.

How Do People Use Tumbled Stones?

You can find tumbled stones being used in a wide variety of different ways, so there is no one use for tumbled stones. You can find thousands of tons of these tumbled stones being produced annually, and these are being produced all over the world.

Furthermore, you can find these stones being sold individually, or sometimes in bulk. Some of the ways these stones are used include:

  • Rock collectors, getting tumbled stones as part of a rock collection is incredibly affordable, so they are a great way to build up a collection. 
  • One of the other common uses is in craft projects, since these stones are inexpensive, you find people using them in all types of projects!
  • Linked to the previous point, but it is its own thing, is the use of tumbled stones in jewelry. These stones can very easily be turned into charms and artwork which can be worn. Making pendants or necklaces is one of the most common uses you will find.
  • They are also often used in home decor, with the more inexpensive ones being used as vase fillers.
  • You can also find tumbled stones being used for meditation, mindfulness, and even spiritual healing practices, here they’re used differently depending on the type of rock.
Andrea Daehma
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