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Healing crystals and stones come in so many forms, and tumbled stones are one of the most vibrant as well as versatile types. Beautiful pieces of stone formed from raw rocks in nature, tumbled stones radiate gentle energy through their polished and smooth shapes. With so many colors and varieties to choose from, it helps to know how tumbled stones are created and what kind of healing they offer.
Tumbled stones are rocks, minerals, and crystals that have been smoothed and highly polished by either nature or man. Tumbled crystals are often vivid in color (though some are clear), with quartz being one of the most common. Beautiful to look at, tumbled rocks are also healing stones and serve many beneficial purposes. Due to their smooth and polished appearance, they are often found in jewelry and other items around the home. Known to be incredibly calming, these polished pieces are a fantastic healing aid as well as a great visual aesthetic.
Many people, particularly healers, love using tumbled crystals since they are ideal for using in grids and upon altars. Tumbled stones are also a convenient size for placing them inside one's bra, medicine bags and pockets, and are great for meditation as they fit nicely in the hand or on various parts of the body for Chakra work. The tumbled stone allows for a more suitable access to the healing properties of each stone when doing healing work due to their size and gentle vibrations.
Crystals can be tumbled by a few different methods. For commercial purposes, these methods include polishing by hand with a foot pedal or electric tumble machine, as well as rotary and vibratory rock tumbling machines. Nature can also be used to create tumbled stones, although this process can take many years. Let’s take a closer look at the various methods.
Some people and companies prefer to take the time to carefully polish crystals by hand. The rocks are cleansed thoroughly in water with soap, and scrubbed with a small brush if necessary (toothbrushes work great for this!) to remove any excess debris. A tool then known as a “Dremel” is used as a hand-held rotary to begin the process of grinding down the stones. Coarse sandpaper can then be used to smooth the edges and begin working to achieve the desired shape of the tumbled stone. This is repeated with varying grits (or degrees) of sandpaper with the finest one used last as a means of pre-polishing the rocks. Heavy fabric is then used to polish the gems (denim material is a good option for hand polishing stones) and if desired, mineral oil or rock polish can be applied as the finishing touch.
While the distinction between hand-polished stones and those tumbled by machine is often considered imperceptible, many feel that there is nothing quite like the effect of a hand-polished tumbled stone. That being said, those who choose to tumble stones find that tumbler machines are more effective in achieving a beautiful finish, and involve much less manual effort even for the most obscure areas. The length of time it takes to polish a stone by hand (also known as "lapidary") varies, and is based on several factors, including the roughness of the stone. However, it can take several hours or more to finish one stone. Some people opt to supplement hand stone polishing with a tumbler that is rotated by way of a foot pedal or a hand crank in addition to just sanding the stones individually by hand. Alternatively, they can use an electric tumbler to aid in the hand polishing process. These rock tumbling machines can be used in addition to individual hand polishing, to complement the process, or as the entire process.
A method of polishing tumbled stones that is not derived from nature is that of a rock tumbling machine. There are two kinds of tumblers: Rotary and Vibratory. With a rotary tumbler, the rocks are placed inside the tumbler's barrel along with water and a grit medium. The tumbler then rotates or "tumbles" the ingredients to the desired state. Vibratory tumblers polish the stones as they are placed inside the bowl of the device which is shaken at rapid speeds. This method creates a friction that smooths and polishes the tumbled stones.
So what happens after you have chosen a machine? Rough stones are collected, using care to avoid overly cracked ones to ensure a higher quality of tumbled stones. The stones are then placed into the cylinder or barrel of the tumbler. With a rotary tumbler, a coarse grit-medium such as grit silicon carbide 60/90 is used in the initial phase of the tumbling process. Once that step is completed, the cylinder must be emptied and cleaned before adding a medium grit-medium for the next cycle. Next, a fine grit-medium is used to pre-polish the tumbled stones. In the final stages of the tumbling process, a very fine polishing compound, such as aluminum oxide powder, is used to polish the stones.
The grits that are used in rock tumbler machines are rock polishers made from a silicon carbide powder. Its consistency is harder than that of the stones being tumbled to allow for filing and polishing any jagged edges into smooth, rounded corners. Mediums used in the tumblers to polish the stones consist of coarse grit silicon carbide 60/90, medium grit silicon carbide 150/220 and fine grit silicon carbide 500F. The fine grit is considered a pre-polish and is used right before the final polishing phase when making tumbled stones.
It's important to know that stones tumble differently in the machine based on their natural hardness level, which is determined by the Mohs scale of hardness. Stones that have an inherent hardness of 7 on the Mohs scale require little to no medium grit mixture when polishing. Examples of stones like this include various (but not all) forms of Jasper and Petrified Wood. There are also larger types of stones that instead require a medium grit in the cylinder when tumbling in order to smooth them down. Some of these stones include Unakite, Sodalite, Magnesite and Dalmatian Stones. Then there are rough stones that need extra care in the tumbler due to how fragile they are, as well as stones that are too fragile to tumble as they will break. Calcite, Gypsum and Talc are all examples of stones too fragile for tumbling.
The medium used in tumbling is sometimes custom created based on the needs of the soon to be tumbled stones, such as Banded Amethyst, Gold & Red Tiger’s Eye, Snowflake Obsidian, Apache Tears and a common favorite amongst crystal lovers - Rose Quartz.
How long does it take to polish these beautiful tumbled stones in the tumblers? Well, depending on the machine and the type of rocks selected, the process of tumbling stones can take anywhere from one day to several months! As there are several stages of tumbling with various grinds depending on the stones selected, rotary tumblers tend to take longer to produce tumbled stones. In fact, each step can take approximately one week to complete, leaving a minimum of four weeks, not to mention that steps are often repeated to achieve the desired smoothing effect. When it comes to vibratory tumblers, rocks are smoothed and polished in just a few weeks, for each process is repeated as needed until the vibrated stones are polished properly. Generally, the softer the rock, the less time it takes to complete the tumbling process.
Over the course of many years, rocks found in nature can be polished into tumbled stones by the steady movement of water in the oceans and in rivers. This natural process actually started millions of years ago in the Earth’s water sources as the waves of the ocean and currents of streams moved our planet’s sediment along. The rocks would tumble along, gradually turning into beautiful polished tumbled stones. Their discovery prompted ancient cultures to learn how to polish rocks themselves, inspired by their beauty and healing properties.
There are many different thoughts and opinions on whether rough is better than tumbled stones and visa versa. Some people feel a more intense energy from rough stones, and believe that tumbled stones have a more gentle and subtle energy. Then there are those who feel no difference between natural crystal formations and tumbled stones. Some believe the more unrefined a stone is, the more intense the energy, whereas with tumbled stones the energy can be altered in power through the shape of the finished tumbled stone, such as a heart, pyramid or sphere.
An example of natural Red Jasper (left) and tumbled Red Jasper (right)
Often people attribute raw stones to be more powerful because they are “straight from the Earth” with their natural state, yet tumbled stones are powerful in their own way.
People love tumbled stones for their gentle and sensitive healing in contrast to more natural stones. Some tumbled stones can also be just slightly tumbled, maintaining most of their natural qualities, while still allowing for a rough appearance and texture but without their original jagged edges. These type of tumbles are great for those who prefer the gentle healing vibrations of tumbled stones but prefer a rougher texture to work with. They emit a vibration more connected to the Earth as they are still rather rough. A popular, roughly tumbled stone is that of Black Tourmaline. Black Tourmaline is a great healing companion because it is known to be purifying, grounding, protective and soothing.
An example of roughly polished Black Tourmaline (left) and Lepidolite (right)
Additionally, tumbled stones can be chosen in specific shapes for various healing purposes. Cutting and shaping polished stones into a specific shape (such as a heart) allows for deeper healing work by enhancing the desired natural properties associated with the stone and corresponding shape. Gallets, also known as palm stones, are a popular choice. The rough stone is polished into a large oval shape that fits nicely in one’s hand for meditation or massage. Other shapes of polished stones include pyramids, wands, spheres and eggs for healing use.
Many people allow their intuition to guide them when choosing tumbled stones to work with for healing, and tumbled ones often make a great first choice when seeking out stones.
People appreciate that tumbled stones have such an all-purpose form. Their versatility and radiant energy offers many healing benefits. Tumbled crystals also have the allure of being visually appealing. People also often prefer tumbled stones for their vibrant colors and polished shapes. Together in clusters they make for a stunning array of gems to behond, and standing alone they catch the eye, too. Gazing upon a vividly hued tumbled stone can be very calming in its own right.
The smooth shapes are often pleasant to hold, especially if one is feeling anxious or during meditating. It’s important to note that some minerals contain toxic elements that are not ideal to handle, so a polished stone creates a barrier which allows a person to safely hold the tumbled stones. For example, in its raw form, Cinnabar contains mercury and Tiger Eye may contain asbestos. The polished finish adds a layer or a barrier between physical contact with the mineral.
Tumbled stones are soothing and peaceful gems when it comes to healing. Known to calm stressful environments, they are very comforting pieces with which to work. They aid in decision-making and help offer clarity. When it comes to the body, they assist with support during healing of physical ailments such as chronic and long-term illness, as well as with pain relief. They also offer assistance in determining causes of physical issues, support during detoxing and they can help to energize the body as well as clear the mind.
The smaller size of tumbled crystals makes them ideal for placing them under pillows at night, around the home and office, and carrying in one’s pocket. They are used for Feng Shui in living spaces and even placed in or around houseplants. Tumbled stones are especially ideal for wearing as jewelry! Their small and smoother forms make great necklace pendants, bracelets and earrings. Wearing them close allows you to benefit from their vibration throughout the day.
Another popular option when it comes to having crystals close to the body is for women to tuck their tumbled stones in their bra - a perfect way to keep healing vibrations near the heart chakra. Tucking the healing stones in your bra allows for discreet crystal healing, including that of grounding, calming, abundance, prosperity, joy, expression and feminine energy. The private reminder of one's personal manifestation goals can be obtained through this method. Another instance in which one may want to try this is for a day when courage is needed - wear the intended healing stone inside the bra for the energetic vibration and a gentle reminder throughout the day.
These stones serve as a great addition to crystal collections for amplification of energy, intentions and manifestation. The nature of tumbled stones allows for increasing forms of abundance and universal attraction into our vibration. People like to use tumbled stones in intention bags (also known as medicine bags or mojo bags) by choosing specific crystals based on the intention they are seeking and placing them in a small bag. Often, it is a good idea to include a quartz crystal tumbled stone in the bag for higher and more consistent amplification of the surrounding stones.
Depending on the crystal and how someone responds to their crystal, some tumbled stones can carry a gentle vibration, while others have a stronger vibration. Both are effective for healing.
Tumbled crystals allow for stronger connections to the higher self. These stones work well with healing crystal grids and when placed on the body during meditating. Meditation with tumbled stones opens healing opportunities because of the wide selection of stones from which to choose. The mental stillness, focus and calm received from the stones aids in deeper meditative states, thus enhancing the desired outcome of intentions.
Because of their healing nature, tumbled stones are also optimal for chakra balancing. Depending on the chakra being focused upon, the type of tumbled stone will be chosen based on the associated attributes such as energy, intention and even the color that corresponds with that particular chakra. An example of a set of tumbled stones for chakra balancing may include Black Tourmaline, Red Jasper, Citrine, Green Aventurine, Blue Lace Agate, Amethyst, and Clear Quartz. You could use them all at once or simply use the ones needed for the chakra with which you are working. Always remember to energetically cleanse your crystals by methods such as smudging, and be sure to set your intentions for healing before use.
The variety of tumbled stones to choose from based on your needs makes for great options when it comes to emotional, physical and spiritual healing. The smooth texture to touch and hold, the gentle vibrations, the vivid colors and the healing properties of tumbled crystals give enriching healing opportunities with each chosen stone. Vibrant stones in their own right, tumbles open the door to a path of healing and growth by way of their potent healing properties. Choose a tumbled stone for your own purpose and needs, then allow the stone to guide you for your greater good with healing.
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| Wonderful article. In addition to points, I love to wear bracelets of small beads such as tourmalinated Quartz and rose Quartz.|
I also have a bracelet of tumbled strawberry quartz that I have a real affinity for. Love my stones like family! (Submitted by: M Joy Vitale on May 30, 2020)
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