Hello! My name is Nathan, I have not tumbled rocks before, and I have questions for experienced tumblers.
The situation: I have a bunch of emeralds, rubies, and sapphires that are uncut and still have rock matrix on them. I want to remove the matrix from the gemstones.
My problem: I can't afford to buy all the proper supplies and equipment for tumbling.
My plans: I intend to make my own tumbler. I do not think the machine itself will be that hard to construct. However, I do not know what to use for a barrel. This brings me to my first question: What material should the barrel be made out of? Also, can I tumble emeralds (~8 on mohs scale) in the same batch as ruby and sapphire (hardness 9)? Or would that damage the emeralds? And if all I want to do is get the much softer matrix off the hard gemstones, do I really need very specific types of grit, or can I just use sand (hardness 7) or something like that?
Please stop me from doing something stupid that will damage my gems.
Post by JKowalski33 on Sept 5, 2004 20:12:38 GMT -5
Hello Nathan, I can't answer your questions on building the tumbler, but as for removing the matrix, it is my understanding that you can put the emeralds in the barrel just by themself without grit or water. They will tumble and the bits of matrix will break off, and leave the much harder emeralds separated. I don't have any experience with this, this is just a suggestion. -Jackson
Post by cookie3rocks on Sept 5, 2004 20:56:06 GMT -5
Hi Nathan, The only emeralds I have done sucessfully were quite large a had a lot of matrix, giving them time to grind down without desintagrating. I start them in 220 and check them every 12 hours, some are ready before others. I ran them with jasper and they moved along at the same rate, for the most part. I just threw in 3 big ones at the time, and 2 had to come out as they were not ready for polish when everything else was. I got one gorgeous dark green diomond shaped emerald that's gonna make a killer pendant. It has one little rough spot I'm still trying to figure out how to smooth. Good luck,
If you hit the speed bumbs really fast, you hardly feel them at all.
spend some time and look at the posts here and a lot of your questions will be answered. if you have a little imagination assembling a tumbler is not a big deal oh yeah and a little good junk helps. give me a shout and I will help I made a couple of frames. look back in general section and there are a couple pictures and a material list
God put his best work in ROCKS. Etsy store, arendsagates
About removing the matrix - I was just looking for the same type of information. In my case I found a few geodes and was thinking of removing the matrix to polish the egg shaped insides. While searching I found a link that gives some general ideas:
I’ve been tumbling some quartz-like materials with matrix in 60/90 and discovered that the process is diminishing the matrix quite fast. So instead of trying to break the matrix of my geodes, I will just place one of them in 60/90 to see if it will do the trick. I will be checking the process daily and will remove the experimental geode as soon all the matrix is gone and the inside ready to go to the next step. Sometimes experimenting with things works out, sometimes not, but, we always learn from it and it’s fun! Good luck with all of your projects!:-)
God of Multiple Parallel Universes Full of Rocks and Apprentice to THE ONE.
I used 4"ABS drainpipe, and you can buy the plastic cap for the the bottom and the temp clean out plug for the top of the barrel at the same place you buy the pipe. You should use some type of rubber to line the inside of the barrel also(cuts down on noise and keeps the rocks from getting beat up). I used 1/8" rubber sold in hardware stores for mine.
As far as the ems and rubies go, you can start grinding them together until you get them shaped, but then seperate them for the rest of cycle. Sand will not do very well for grinding these stones. Maybe to remove the matrix, but it will take forever for sand to do any type of shaping or polishing. You can purchase a small kit with all the stages necessary for under 20 bucks.
Thank you everyone for your advice! Right now I just want to remove the matrix from these gems, not polish them. I got the impression that sand would work for removing the matrix but not for polishing. Is that right? I'm very grateful for all of your help. Thanks.