Tumbled Stones: What are They and How Can You Use Them?

A photo of Blue Lace Agate Tumbled Stones

 

 

Tumbled Stones are one of the most popular types of specimens for rock collectors or alternative medicine practitioners or students. As we continue to grow the largest online selection of tumbled stones for sale, demand for more exotic and colorful stones only grows.

Not only are tumbled stones affordable and effective, but their smaller size makes them easier to carry in your pocket or purse or display in just about any area.

Instead of dedicating shelf space to a few larger specimens, a tumbled stone collection can live in a vase, jar, bowl or other container and hold hundreds of crystal and mineral specimens without taking up much room.

Tumbled stones also make tremendous media in craft projects, wire wrapping for jewelry, as a tumbled stone backsplash or other form of countertop or tile, or as decoration or substrate in an aquarium or terrarium.. They’re the perfect stone for the beginning collector or the long-time rockhound who has it all.

But their size, versatility and affordability are just the beginning of the story behind these fascinating gemstone and mineral specimens. To truly understand the tumbled rock, we have to go back to the beginning.

What is a Tumbled Stone?

Tumbled stones have been around for about as long as stone has existed. Millions of years ago, rockslides would cause massive hunks of stone, crystal and mineral to roll down mountainsides and hills.

As they descended — or tumbled — down to their new home, they would mix together, bumping around with other rock, dirt and debris and rounding off the sharp and protruding edges.

These stones became valued in ancient societies for their texture, color or clarity. Some civilizations used them as currency, for jewelry or as a sign of prosperity.

Near the oceans and rivers, constantly running water over beds of rocks would smooth once-jagged stone into silky smooth pebbles that people used for construction or other uses.

These were long before the days of hobby or industrial sized rock tumblers — but they still got the job done.

Today, individuals or massive corporations create tumbled stone using barrel-shaped machinery and grit — rough pieces of debris to smooth the stones — as they roll around in the tumbler for days or weeks at a time. This simulates the constant movement that took place in riverbeds, ocean shores and along mountainsides around the world for the last million or more years.

How Are Tumbled Stones Made?

Before the process of tumbling begins, larger rocks are crushed into smaller chunks and placed into the rock tumbler. 

The smaller pieces roll around in the tumbler for as long as two weeks, interacting with different levels of grit, they smooth their edges and become more like pebbles than rocks. 

Near the end of the tumbling process, a polish is added to give the rocks a bright and shiny appearance. Different stones take to a polish better than others — as more porous rocks absorb a polish and don’t show the effects of the shiny coating.

Different tumbled stone manufacturers use different forms of polish. Some use a lacquer that is not pet safe and can yellow or flake off in time. Others might use a clear coat that can wear away over several years or if it has prolonged exposure to moisture.

At fox&toad, we hand-pick every tumbled stone we well and never buy in blind-bulk — meaning that a manufacturer sends us several pounds that we don’t get to see until they arrive to our warehouse.

By only working with manufacturers who use safe, high quality and lasting polish, and only choosing the best stones from every tumbled run, we can guarantee the utmost quality in every stone we sell.

What Stones Are Used as Tumbled Stones?

Just about any crystal, mineral or regular rock can be tumbled. Even brittle minerals such as Epidote come in tumbled form.

And since crystals can come from different regions of the world — each with their own unique look, shape and metaphysical properties — we can often offer a wide range of stones to match your interests.

Some of the most popular tumbled stones include:

  • Tumbled Moonstone remains one of the most popular types of tumbled stones because there is such a variety in stone depending on the local and color of each tumbled specimen. Tumbled Moonstone has that distinctive white and peachy flash. Pink Moonstone has less flash, but a beautiful pastel color. Black Moonstone has a deep color on the surface, but a silver sheen flash that catches attention quickly. Peach Moonstone has an equally deep color with a full-bodied silver flash. Rainbow Moonstone (pictured to the left) remains the most popular tumbled Moonstone because of its decorative blue and green flashes that live up to the stone’s name.
A photo of Rainbow Moonstone Tumbled Stones

At fox&toad, we have some offbeat Moonstone picks as our favorites. Zebra Moonstone isn’t as flashy as traditional Moonstone, but it contains both Moonstone and Feldspar with deep veins of Smoky Quartz throughout. Virginia Black Moonstone is a rare domestic Moonstone from within the U.S. The silver stones have a white-silver flash that tends to cover large swatches of the stone’s surface.

But our very favorite tumbled Moonstone is the African Moonstone. These stones are fairly limited in our inventory and came from a small batch of very high quality African Moonstone rough. These stones have a blue flash that is even more intense and widespread than Rainbow Moonstone — and a stone surface that at times almost resembles fish scales.

  • Tumbled Agate is a tremendous choice for any collector because of the wide array of colors, patterns and locals available. You could create a world stone map just from the tumbled agate stones in our collection.
Among the most popular are the tight bands in Botswana Agate, the fossilized history of Turritella Agate and the gorgeous patterns of Moss Agate (of which we also have Moss Agate on Petrified Wood, for a fun combo).
But the most popular, hands down, remains the South African Blue Lace Agate tumbled stones. Each piece has become more scarce as the lone mine that produces the stunning specimens is no longer active. And with such beautiful, natural blues, there’s no wonder why many people feel attracted to them.
A photo of Brazilian Amethyst Tumbled Stones
  • Tumbled Amethyst is a stone that most people feel is just the traditional purple Brazilian Amethyst. While those remain quite possibly the most popular gemstone in the world, they aren’t the only Amethyst material in thefamily.

Chevron Amethyst has terrific banding that lives up to its name. Indian Amethyst have deep pockets of purple throughout. Ametrine contains both Amethyst and natural Citrine for a great purple/gold combo. Prasiolite is a rare form of green Amethyst and Rwandan Amethyst are perhaps the most purple of the bunch. 

  • Tumbled Lepidolite has dramatically increased in popularity over the last few years because of its appreciation in the metaphysical community — not to mention its striking natural purple hues.
Lepidolite gets its coloring in part from lithium inclusions that make this stone a calming influence to anyone who holds it. For a double dose of beauty, you can check out our Rubellite in Lepidolite tumbled stones that add some Pink Tourmaline to the mix.
  • Tumbled Sodalite is another popular blue stone that most people don’t realize comes in various shades. Traditional Sodalite tumbled stones from Africa are a deep blue, but not as deep as the stone can get. Midnight Sodalite holds that title with a dark denim-like coloration. In reality, Midnight Sodalite is just the highest quality of Sodalite tumbled stones available to the market.
If you want a splash of color with your blues, Sunset Sodalite adds some orange Feldspar to the mix to truly give it a sunset look.

If you like some inclusions with your quartz, you can also check out Tourmalinated Quartz (with Black Tourmaline) and Lithium Quartz (with Lithium) among others on our long list of Quartz Tumbled Stones.

  • Tumbled Pyrite is also historically referred to as “Fool’s Gold” because of its appearance to the sought-after metal. Over the years, Pyrite has gained its own loyal following — with Pyrite Tumbled Stones consistently ranking among our top sellers.

Indian Pyrite can give you the same metaphysical qualities with a slightly different look. Chalcopyrite has Copper inclusions that give it a very shiny look.

  • Tumbled Jasper contains dozens of stones from different localities with a wide variety of looks and feels. They vary from the popular Red Jasper to the ornate Ocean Jasper to the metamorphic Bumblebee Jasper and our top-selling tumbled stone in 2018 and 2019 — Poppy Jasper.
  • Tumbled Citrine is a tricky thing. Natural Citrine tumbled stones have a deep yellow coloring that, at times, can trend toward a smoky look. Natural Malawi Citrine Tumbled Stones have a lemon yellow coloring that often contains interior light refraction that causes visible rainbows. Ametrine Tumbled Stones mix natural Citrine with Amethyst.

Quite often, commercial stone sellers will label a dark orange stone as Citrine when in fact, it is heat-treated Amethyst. These stones achieve their burnt orange color through tremendous heating or radiation treatments that turn the purple from Amethyst into the orange hue.

While there are many fans of these stones, and they do indeed provide a beautiful color and display, they should not be labeled as Citrine.

  • Tumbled Bloodstone is a popular stone from India that provides a stunning mixture of greens and reds. While Bloodstone tumbled stones appeal to a wide range of rockhounds, Fancy Jasper also lives in the same neighborhood as Bloodstone.

While Bloodstone is predominantly red and green, it can contain inclusions of other Jaspers that lead to orange and yellow dots throughout. The difference between Bloodstone and Fancy Jasper is that Fancy Jasper does not have red or green as its most dominant color. A stone that is predominantly red falls into the Bloodstone family. If a stone is heavier toward the yellow or orange, or has less red than either of those two colors, it is Fancy Jasper.

  • Tumbled Petrified Wood can be found in all parts of the world. The most popular locales for Petrified Wood are Madagascar and Arizona (U.S.). At times, other stones can grow on Petrified Wood, as is evident with our Moss Agate on Petrified Wood tumbled stones.
  • Tumbled Labradorite is one of the most popular stones in the world. Labradorite tumbled stones can display just about any color in the world with its wide range of colorful flashes. The most rare and sought after Labradorite flashes remind he purples and oranges. In recent years, Micro Labradorite has entered the market as a newcomer that displays similar flash, but in small, pin-point and star-like dots.
  • Tumbled Aventurine comes in a host of colors that make tremendous displays when put together. Green Aventurine and Red Aventurine tumbled stones remain the most popular, but you can also readily find blue and purple aventurine.

 

Are Tumbled Stones as Effective in Alternative Medicine?

While mainstream science is not quick to acknowledge the impact that a gem, rock or mineral can have on alternative medicine, the metaphysical abilities have been widely studied with success and some aspects of alternative medicine have become mainstream.

Shungite, for example, is well known for its ability to absorb and block the Electromagnetic Fields that live all around us and emit from all of our electronic devices that could cause cancer with prolonged exposure.

Recent studies show that Unakite likely has the same abilities.

Lithium Quartz has long been crushed and used by drug manufacturers to create the calming medication Lithium.

According to experts, healing crystals act as a conduit that holds the power to heal by allowing positive energy to flow into the body and cast away negative energy around you and your auric field. Like other forms of alternative therapy, crystals work by channeling your energy levels to focus on healing your body from the inside and promoting peace, happiness and creativity from within.

Many also hold tumbled stones during meditation practice as a way of centering attention, focus and energy.

While labeled as “alternative,” this type of healing stone medical treatment is not new. The first historical documentation of crystals originated from the Ancient Sumerians (c. 4500- c. 2000 BC). The Sumerians used crystals in their formulas.

Ancient Egyptians mined for crystals and used them to make jewelry that was used in practice, for their metaphysical properties. Specifically, they used crystals as aids for health and protection and would often bury a Lapis Lazuli scarab with their deceased, with the belief that it would protect them in the Afterlife.

The Ancient Greeks assigned many metaphysical properties to crystals. In fact, the word “Crystal” comes from the Greek word “krýstallos” which translates to “ice”. 

The Ancient Greeks were said to believe that clear quartz crystals were a water that froze to the point where it’d remain in its solid form. The word “amethyst” in Ancient Greek language means “not intoxicate.” Amethyst was worn as an amulet that they believed would aid hangovers or prevent intoxication.

While most metaphysical properties and chakra beliefs surrounding crystals and minerals have been studied, but not outright proven, many alternative scientists still insist that there are some sort of crystal healing properties carried within certain stones. Until those points are proven, many mainstream scientists will still label these studies as “pseudoscience.”

Are Tumbled Stones Crystals?

Most tumbled stones are indeed natural crystals that formed over many thousands — if not millions — of years throughout the earth.

But not every tumbled stone is a genuine crystal material. Some man-made or man-altered stones exist and, while still popular, should be properly labeled as such.

Popular man-made tumbled stones include Opalite and Goldstone — though the latter does include copper flecks that give it some love from nature.

Some will offer Citrine tumbled stones that are in fact heat-treated Amethyst. Through massive temperature increases or radiation treatments, the traditional purple Amethyst color can change to a burnt orange hue.

Different treatments can also turn the purple from Chevron Amethyst into a green color that some will offer to the public as Prasiolite. True Prasiolite tumbled stones are a natural green form of Amethyst with no treatment.

You should check with the seller whom you are working with to determine the locale and potential treatments given to a stone before it enters the marketplace.

In some cases, a seller may add dyes to enhance colors or coatings to make a specimen or tumbled stone appear more shiny or flashy in your hand. This is most apparent in aura coating on quartz.

What Can You Make With Tumbled Rocks?

The better question is what can’t you make with tumbled stones? Over the years, we’ve seen the tumbled stones we sell turn into works of art, jewelry, the foundation and decoration for aquariums and terrariums, and even an elaborate tumbled stone backsplash and countertop.

We have also seen the polished stones used as decoration in a vase or in a dish on a counter, a side table, night stand or near a bathtub. Thanks to the size of each piece, you can also carry tumbled stones with you every day in your purse, pocket or in a bag.

Some of the largest candle and soap manufacturers in the world purchase tumbled stones from us for use in their products. 

We’d love to see what you create with our Tumbled Stones. The possibilities are truly endless.