Ever type of collectible has its own kind of charm: stamps come from all over the world, while toys can take you back to your childhood. Rocks look really pretty, can teach you about science, and are very, very easy to care for.
Rockhounding, as it’s called, may seem like an unusual pastime, often involving travel to far-off places so you can wander around while keeping your eyes on the ground. Even so, a few people end up becoming highly dedicated rock hunters, expanding their geology knowledge at every opportunity and dreaming of one day picking up a super-valuable agate or crystal.
When, however, you’re just getting started at exploring the mineral world, you don’t really need to spend much at all. Depending on what you’re looking for, you can order raw semi-precious gemstones for only a few dollars a pound (obviously you should expect to pay more for opals and emeralds). With a few purchases like these, as well as a couple of afternoons doing your own rockhunting, you will soon have the beginnings of a decent collection.
The trouble is that even high-quality gemstones are, frankly, ugly in their natural state. To get them to display their brilliant colors and gorgeous patterns after witnessing poor weather conditions for centuries at a time, means polishing or cutting them. The latter requires some skill, but anyone (including children) can learn to polish gemstones with the aid of a rock tumbler.
As the name implies, this is just a device for tossing rocks around along with some grit and moisture, thereby grinding their surfaces smooth. After this, you can admire their structure with a magnifying glass, use them in art projects or simply leave them out in a glass bowl for a stylish decoration.
As you would expect from a product backed by a higly-respected brand, this entry-level rock tumbler has a number of things going for it. In the first place, it includes a selection of 9 gemstones and clear instructions to help get you started. It’s also relatively quiet – remember that you’re actually bashing rocks together, so no rock tumbler is absolutely silent – and comes with a two-year guarantee.
Unfortunately, it’s definitely on the small side, meaning you won’t be able to do much at one time. Properly polishing rocks takes several days, while overfilling the barrel will only lead to disappointment. Luckily, it includes a timer that will shut it off after anything from 24 hours to a week, so you can set it and mostly leave it alone.
Overall, this rock tumbler is still very reasonably priced compared to similar items that often seem to be of low quality. It’s not going to work well for professional jewelers, but that is also not the intention: this is a fun little machine that crafters, science teachers, and fledgling geologists will all love.