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Tumbled Stones What Grade to Buy

Tumbled Stones, The Different Grades

Collecting tumbled stones is a great way to build a large and varied collection of crystals without the need for a huge amount of space.

Although sometimes called tumbled gemstones, this term is misleading.  The grade of material used to produce tumbled stones is rarely gem grade.

Tumbled stones are produced in huge quantities before being shipped around the world. Being stored in large open containers means they're handled extensively before being purchased.

The grading system used for tumbled stones varies depending on where they’ve been produced.  Triple A (AAA) is often used to describe the finest grade. It demonstrates that a stone is a higher grade than AA which is higher than A.

Many businesses prefer to just use A, B, C or D. I do sometimes use the term 'AAA grade' if a stone is exceptional, but otherwise find A, B, C or D is sufficient.

Rocks and minerals tend to be graded according to richness or uniformity of colour and the presence of impurities and inclusions.  In translucent or transparent stones clarity is also taken into consideration.

A tumbled stone with a lower grade is not necessarily any less beautiful than a AAA grade stone. It may just have a different appearance.  In many cases the characteristic that causes a stone to be a lower grade can make it even more striking.

We have prehnite tumbled stones in our collection that are sold as AAA grade because they're virtually inclusion-free.  We also have prehnite, which is classed as grade B because it's heavily included.

Although I like the grade A stone because of its colour, I also really like the grade B because it's far more distinctive and the inclusions make every piece unique.

A tumbled stone could be classed as grade D because it's heavily included, because of its colour or because of another natural imperfection.

Some stones such as rutilated and tourmalinated quartz and star rubies and sapphires are graded according to the quality of their inclusions.  Lightly included material will likely be given a lower grade.Inclusions and anomalies in a rock or mineral offer a glimpse into its journey through time. A distinctive mark or different colour is a good indication of the presence of another mineral or substance.

Internal fractures and surface-reaching fissures often occur during the crystal's early formation.

Many retailers nowadays only want to sell the finest crystals and minerals.  I've seen countless websites that state, "We only sell the finest grade stones". For many, the thought of stocking something lower grade would be out of the question.

Not only are these materials not within everyone's budget, but as this article shows, different grade stones exhibit different characteristics.

There's a common misconception especially amongst those who use crystals for their healing properties, that only the finest-grade tumbled stones are worth collecting.

It’s worth noting that if a crystal is being used for its healing properties, its grade is irrelevant.  The healing properties of malachite will not change whether you’re using a AAA grade stone or a low-grade broken piece.

The late Judy Hall author of the Crystal Bible books says a broken or damaged crystal will often be even more powerful.

While the finest grade rocks and minerals can be very beautiful, never be put off because something is a lower grade.  Each stone carries its own charm and geological significance.

Embrace the diversity of rocks and minerals and appreciate the nuances.  Part of the beauty in nature is nothing is the same, and nothing is perfect. 

Happy collecting!

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