Three months. I’m learning the value of patience with my new rockhounding and tumbling hobby, as I’ve learned the stones I tumble (South Dakota agates) are very hard, and need to be tumbled for a long time to get a good polish. I’ve learned that the process thus takes about 3 months! I was doing one week for each of the four tumbling steps I do, but wasn’t getting great results until I upped that to three weeks for each step.
I’m pretty thrilled with this latest batch! I would say this is my first real, high-quality batch that I’ve done. These are from my small tumbler, and thus, most of these stones are only 1″ to 1 1/2″ inches in length. They’re beautiful even to the naked eye, but I’m finding that the use of my macro lens and a close photo really allows me to see the beauty and detail in these stones. Here’s a (large!) number of photos of various agates and jaspers from my latest batch.
This agate had the typical, bumpy, bubbly shape of a bubblegum agate, but when I found it on the Buffalo Gap National Grasslands, it was a dull grayish-black. It took the better part of 4 months worth of tumbling to wear down the outer layer, exposing some of the most beautiful patterns I’ve seen on any of my agates.
I’m calling this one “Crystal Dragon”. Not sure whether you’d call this a prairie, bubblegum, or other agate, but I love the swirling pattern, with the crystal/druzy “neck” on the dragon, and a little pink tongue and eye.
A prairie agate, showing a beautiful array of colors. A lot of the more weathered agates on the grasslands have black parts on their exterior. I believe that’s manganese oxide that forms when they’re exposed to the elements (at least some of the blacker agates). Much of the time that black disappears when you tumble, but on this prairie agate, the black was maintained in some of the bands.
Wonderful fine detail that’s not all that noticeable to the naked eye, but is quite evident in a macro photo of this agate.
A lot of the bubblegum and prairie agates you find have a very subtle, very fine banding such as this. Very often it’s not noticeable until you tumble.
A classic bubblegum agate, a little larger than many of the agates on this page. Bubblegum agates really tumble beautifully, as you generally get these beautiful agate “eyes”.
Interesting shape on this agate, with a little peak that has it’s own little cap/color pattern.
A prairie agate, with a lot of “druzy” (crystally) elements.
The biggest agate in this batch is also one of the most gorgeous. This beautiful Prairie Agate has some wonderful banding patterns, and a beautiful range of colors.
Another bubblegum agate with the typical eyes you see when polishing.
I’m not sure what to call this one (help!!). It has a definite linear “grain” pattern, but it’s so unlike all the petrified wood I’ve found that I hesitate to call it that.
I love the pattern on this one, with the bold orange streak.
Jasper? Agate? I dunno. Has a pretty pattern though!
The most common prairie agate patterns are jagged, rough striping, but this is also a relatively common type of pattern and color for prairie agates from Buffalo Gap.
Another polished bubblegum agate
A prairie agate with some nice banded patterns
I love the contrasting patterns on some of the agates, with very dark sections contrasted by white or very light sections.
Another bubblegum agate, one that was tumbled awhile and didn’t maintain the “eyes” as much as some of the others.