Best way to polish rough stones?

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Sheila H wrote
on Jul 27, 2008 3:49 PM

While on vacation, I picked up some rough stones. Some can easily be cleaned and polished and wire wrapped as center focal pieces for necklaces. Some are still a little more rough and need cleaning.

They are rose quartz, sapphire, garnet and amethyst. My first thought was to use one of the rock tumblers that I could get at the craft store but I was not sure if this is the right way. Although some are fairly large and I could have them professionally cut, I don't know that that is the direction I want to go.

So, I need all of your help once again. How is the best way to clean and polish these so they look their best? 

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Billy Z wrote
on Jul 28, 2008 3:29 AM

 Tumbling will make them shiney, but do you wantto reshape them any? If so, you can get stone polishing burs and diamond burs for actually cutting some of the material away for most of the rotary cutters like a Dremel. I wouldn't give mine up for anything in the world. I got my first one in the mid 80's and I have been using the 3rd one now for 7 years or so. I work them hard though, using them like a bench grinder. *laughz*

 Actually, if you have a bench grinder, you can get polishing wheels for them as well. You have to have what they call a daubber stick(like a dowel with a flat on the end with pitch{pine tar} to hold the stone and keep it from moving) to hold the stone and you work the stone around the tool, instead of working the tool around the stone like with the Dremel.

 My lady at the rock shop will sometimes shape a stone with either a bench or rotary grinder, then throw them in the tumbler overnight to get everything nice and smooth and shiney.

 I have done very little in the way of shaping and/or polishing stones, I normally get her to tumble anything that I get. She just throws it in with her stuff and doesn't even charge me for it. I am one of her best customers, even though I don't buy much at the time, I buy all year 'round, and she looks out for me.

 Every once in awhile she will want a piece of ritual jewelry for herself, and I'll make it for her. She supplies all of the materials, and I don't charge her any labor, we just trade out goods for services. You know, bartering, like in the old days. Hey, it works for me. *grinz* My wife thinks that she wants me, so she gives me deals. Now that is a laugh. *laughz*

 Billy ;o)

 I yam wut I yam and dats all wut I yam. ~Popeye~

Dragonfly Jewelry Designs - ArtFire Artisan Studio

 

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Billy Z wrote
on Jul 28, 2008 3:35 AM

 Oh yeah, almost forgot. You can clean them in an ultrasonic cleaner if you want them to still look natural. it will clean every nook and cranny to be sure. The only drawback is that if a stone has a lot of natural cracks, then sometimes, they will break along the cracks. Most rock shops have one, I don't know about beads stores though. You can buy your own ultrasonic jewelry cleaners now for some pretty reasonable prices from what I have been told.

 Billy ;o)

 I yam wut I yam and dats all wut I yam. ~Popeye~

Dragonfly Jewelry Designs - ArtFire Artisan Studio

 

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Sheila H wrote
on Jul 28, 2008 4:34 AM

I had not thought about reshaping as I figured that would be beyond my capabilities. I don't want to spend a fortune as I am not sure if I will get more of these. This was something I thought I would try. 

I am not that great at wire wrapping but figured this would be a good way to give it a try. 

Thanks for the advice. If you think of anything else, let me know. 

wrote
on Jul 28, 2008 8:27 AM

I just got a rock tumbler for Christmas, but haven't had a chance to use it yet.  I really need to, since I collect interesting-looking rocks.  One thing I read in the instruction manual is that you can get an idea how a rock will look when it's polished is by getting it wet.  Sounds like what you have should polish fairly well.  The instructions also say that how smooth the stones get depends on how long you tumble them with different types of abrasive.  It gets progressively fine from start to finish, similar to sanding something.  I know you can also tumble polish your silver this way if it's been patinated or tarnished.  If I ever get around to working with PMC I'll probably do that as well.

Don't know if that helps you any, but that's approximately everything I know without trying it!

 

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Sheila H wrote
on Jul 28, 2008 10:17 AM

I think that I will stop tonight and look at the tumblers just to see. I figure for no more than I paid for them, I can try one. 

I lucked out to get one sapphire but it is still pretty dirty. I will try the whole thing on one of the rose quartz as I got 3 or 4 of them. 

Thanks for the information!

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Peg@51 wrote
on Jul 28, 2008 12:36 PM

 I love my rock tumbler ... I've had it for years, but just recently started using it (trip to a mine...). I've tumbled amazonite and amethyst in it, and right now it is going with some Michigan river rocks that have a unique pattern in them.

I've got a Dremel, and I bought a drill press for it, I just need to get my diamond bits so I can drill holes in the stones I've tumbled.

If you're going to tumble, make sure the peices are large, as you go through the grit you lose a lot, and some of the smaller stones I first tumbled turned into nothing more than tiny pebbles by the time I was done with the 4 grits (course, fine, pre-polish & polish).Good Luck!!!

 

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Sheila H wrote
on Jul 28, 2008 4:14 PM

 Thanks! I probably would have ended up with a few missing stones...

Unforturnately I was not able to stop tonight. I needed to get groceries as we had nothing to eat since we had been going on vacation. Funny how hubby and son wanted to eat!

I will stop tomorrow night and price them. I don't think they are bad on price so I may even pick one up.

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Warlax wrote
on Feb 5, 2009 9:38 AM

How bigger a stone do you recommend I need to have before I put it in a tumbler? Bit new to this and dont want to end up loosing one of my stones through tumbling!

 

If you get a chance, check out my rock polishing blog

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dixielizard wrote
on Dec 16, 2012 8:28 PM

Hi Sheila  I've got a couple tips for you,   first is buy your self a quality guide book to identify all your stones, the reason why is before you tumble your stones you want to know the hardness of them.  if you through them all together you may end up loosing some !!!!!  once you know the hardness sort them in piles, then when you get a big enough pile tumble only those together.   your sapphires are the hardest of them all and will take a little longer to polish. if you put anything else in with them it will grind them into dust!!!!!!   I found out the hard way when I bought my first tumbler.       happy polishing   Gary (Dixie Design Jewelry)

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