Different rough rocks and minerals that are shaped into small, rounded, and brightly polished pieces are called tumbled stones. Tumbler machines are used for this purpose. The machine tumbles stones and minerals until their rough edges and surfaces get smoothed and polished.
Due to their pleasant and sharp appearance, many people are fond of tumbled stones. They are also called by the names of tumbled gems and polished stones.
Natural Resources Suitable for Making Tumbled Stones
Mineral and rocks that are inherently attractive and radiant in their appearances are used to make tumbled stones. Minerals and rocks with Mohs hardness of more than 5 are considered good choices for the making of tumbled stones because they don’t easily get broken. Hard minerals are also easy to polish. There are different naturally occurring materials that can be used to make tumbled stones.
Chalcedony: It is a cryptocrystalline form of silica with a very fine intergrowth of moganite and silica. Agate, jasper, and bloodstone are the types of chalcedony that are used to make tumbled stones.
Quartz: It is another mineral chiefly made of silica. Crystalline quartz such as amethyst rose and citrine quartz is used to make attractive tumbled stones.
Rocks: Different igneous and metamorphic rocks such as granite, basalt, lapis lazuli, and unakite can also be shaped into tumbled stones.
Fossils: Petrified (fossil) wood, silicified coral, and turritella which contain gastropod fossils are also used as substrates for the making of tumbled stones.
Many other minerals can also be used to produce these attractive, lustrous stones.
Preparation of Tumbled Stones
Rock tumbler is the machine used to make these ornamental stones. Rotary machines used in tumblers usually expose the surface of rough minerals and stones with abrasive grit and water. The barrel which contains minerals and stones rotates for a long period of time. The constant exposure of grit helps in abrading off rough points and edges on the surface of stones.
Once the stones get a smooth texture, they are treated with micro-granular silicon carbide that further improves the softness of the surface in order to prepare them for polishing.
The final step is to treat the stone with micron-size aluminum oxide. It produces a lustrous and bright surface of the rock to give them the ultimate look of tumbling stones.
Rock Tumbling: A Hobby
People have a hobby of making tumble stones on their own. They collect rough minerals and rocks that can be tumbled into stones. Smaller rock tumbling machines are available that usually tumble a few ounces of rocks into tumbled stones. On the other hand, commercial tumbling machines can work on a few tons of rock at a time.
Traditional Uses of Tumbled Stones
Tumbled stones are used in a variety of ways. Their prices vary according to their weight and the type of mineral and stone that has been used in their making.
For Different Craftworks
Due to their attractive and lustrous appearance and availability in different colors, tumbled stones can be used for a plethora of craft assignments and items.
A Component of many Wearable Arts
Since they look good and are easily available in smaller sizes, tumbled stones are also used in the making of earrings, charms, pendants, cufflinks and tie tacks. Jewelry made of tumbled stones is also reasonable with its pricing.
Larger tumbled stones with stunning appearances can be used as gift items. They can also be used to decorate the wrapping of gift packages.
For Home Décor
To provide a color-coordinated touch to candle holders, picture frames and other home décor fixtures, tumbled stones can be used brilliantly, without spending hefty amounts of money on decorations. They can also be used to fill flower vases with matching colors for further beautification.
A Tool of Alternative Medicine
A large chunk of commercially produced tumbled stones are used for alternative treatment methods in spas, massage centers, and alternative medicine facilities. They are used as healing crystals, chakra stones, and energy stones in alternative medicines.
For instance, there is an alternative concept of having different spiritual points on the body known as chakras. Tumbled stones are then used to place on these points to relieve physical and spiritual discomforts. These treatments are not endorsed by scientific research, but they are used by many since they possess no harmful side effects.