What are Tumbled Stones?
Also Known as Crystals
Tumbled stones are rocks and minerals that have been tumbled to produce smooth, rounded and highly polished stones.
The process begins by placing rough stones of a similar size into the rock tumbler. The barrel is then filled with water, sand and coarse grit.
As it slowly rotates stones begin to lose their rough edges and slowly become more rounded.
The smoothness of the tumbled stones is determined by the coarseness of the grit. Initially a very coarse grit is used but it's then replaced with medium and then fine grit. It works in the same way as sandpaper, the finer the paper the smoother the end result.
The final stage of the tumbling process is to polish the stones. This is done using exceptionally fine sand.
The length of time it takes to produce tumbled stones can vary from a few days to months. For the process to be successful it depends on several factors. These include the size of the rock tumbler which could be a small amateur machine or something on an industrial scale.
The size and hardness of the original rocks or minerals must also be taken into consideration. How full the barrel is and type of sand or grit being used is also important.
Using a rock tumbler to produce tumbled stones mimics a process that also happens naturally. When fragments of rock beneath or adjacent to a body of water are gently moved back and forth, movmement caused by the motion of the water causes them to rub against each other and against sediment. Sediment is made-up of small pieces of rock, minerals and the remains of plants and animals.
Over long periods of time the rough fragments become smoother and more rounded. In nature these stones are referred to as river or beach pebbles.
Most but certainly not all tumbled stones tend to be minerals. To be classed as a mineral a naturally occurring solid must have a crystalline structure. Crystalline means it's made up of crystals.
We believe this is how the word 'crystals' came about. It's used almost exclusively by those with an interest in the metaphysical properties of rocks and minerals.
Naturally occurring solids that are not crystalline are known as mineraloids or amorphous solids. Examples include obsidian which is a volcanic glass, opal, shungite, moldavite and pearl.
Although the words crystals rocks and minerals tends to be used interchangeably, all three materials are different.
Information about making your own tumbled stones can be found here.