Rock Tumblers » Gemstones
What Are Tumble-Polished Stones?
Tumbled stones are small pieces of rocks and minerals (usually about one centimeter to five centimeters in diameter) that have been processed in a rock tumbler to produce smooth, rounded and highly polished pebbles. You can see a colorful selection of tumbled stones in the photo at right.
Most stones that a person can find will not tumble with good results. The rocks and minerals used to make tumbled stones are specially selected for their color, translucence, appearance and ability to accept a high polish. These special materials are known as "tumbling rough". Some people collect their own tumbler rough and some buy it from a hobby supply store. Tumbled stones are often so beautiful that many people call them “tumbled gemstones.”
Uses of Tumble-Polished Stones
Tumbled gemstones are used to make jewelry, craft projects and other decorative items. They are also widely collected by people who appreciate their beauty. They are especially enjoyed by children.
Tumbled gemstones are extremely popular in gift shops – especially gift shops found at science centers, caverns and other natural science attractions. Many geologists obtained their first interest in rocks and minerals when they received tumbled stones as a gift or discovered them in a store.
Can Anyone Make Polished Stones?
Yes! Lots of people produce tumble-polished stones as a hobby. You can do it too! To make them you need a rock tumbler, powdered polishing materials and some tumbling rough. A number of companies make inexpensive rock tumbler kits. These sell for as little as $39 for a low-capacity, low-durability tumbler or about $79 for one that will tumble a couple of pounds of rocks and last for years. (Consider buying one that will last for years because you will probably be hooked when your first batch of stones is finished). In addition to the kit you will need to buy rock tumbling supplies and rough rock – unless you can find and collect your own.
How Can I Get Started?
Geology.com has step-by-step instructions for rock tumbling with lots of informative photos. These will help you decide if you want to try tumbling gemstones hobby. Here is a list of our articles:
We hope that you have fun!
|A bright collection of tumble-polished stones. Included in this mix are: orange carnelian agates, red jasper, green malachite, purple fluorite, brown tiger's eye, purple amethyst quartz, green amazonite, blue azurite, blue dyed quartz, blue lace agate and more.
Image © iStockphoto / Marco Cavina.