Crystal Controversy: Rough vs Tumbled

by Cathy Douglas

(photo courtesy of the Wellcome Museum in London, Wellcome Images

Which is better: a rough crystal, or one that’s been polished? We hear that question all the time at Mimosa. My own instinctive feeling has always been that rough stones have a purer energy and a more forceful presence than stones that have been cut or polished. But others with lots of experience say the form of the stone makes no difference.

To reach a better understanding, I thought I’d examine the range of expert opinion on this topic. So here are some quotes, starting with our own in-house crystal expert, Ashley Leavy:

“Tumbled stones or polished stones have a really subtle, gentle energy that radiates outward in all directions… rough stones I usually use when somebody really needs an energetic breakthrough…  More isn’t always better.”– Ashley Leavy

“The healing properties have not been compromised in polished stones. These are rocks. They are pretty tough. You cannot bruise their egos.” — Benjamin Dean

“The more natural a stone is, the more ‘raw energy’ it contains… When a stone is carved into a shape with particular meanings, i.e. spheres, eggs, pyramids, this can also heighten its power.” — Pete “Lumos” of Mind, Body, Spirit

“Many feel that crystals in their raw, rough state are actually more powerful because they have come from Mother Earth in their natural form. This energy can be good for someone who really needs an energetic break through. However, if someone is sensitive to crystal energies then tumbled stones are the way to go.” — Jen Mergell

“I prefer, for my personal use, the rough gemstones. I find that for me they tend to have more vibration. However … As humans are most definitely a visual being, the appeal of something that looks wonderful such as a tumbled stone can be very healing in its own right. ” — Angelus, via Luna’s Grimoire Community Forum

“Let’s say I’m working some energy healing and I want to focus on a specific area…I break for my laser cut smokey quartz wand, as I feel that it helps channel energy more effectively than a rough piece of quartz. But if I’m balancing chakras and I just want the natural energies of the crystal … a rough specimen is perfectly acceptable. A tumbled piece will work just as well and often I will mix and interchange depending on necessity and availability.” — Het Het, via Earthsong Forum

In that same forum, a shamanic practitioner (who goes by MonSno_Leedra) felt strongly that natural stones have greater power: “Perhaps because I follow the shamanic pathway it is a bigger issue to me when dealing with the stone people.”

“I prefer to think of it simply as either walking around in your birthday suit or putting on a pretty dress.” — Kristi Huggins

One thing that makes a difference with certain crystals is that polishing puts a layer of security, in the form of polish, between users and toxic minerals. For example, we were excited to get in some tumbled cinnabar last year from the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show. Cinnabar contains mercury, so we wouldn’t want to carry it in its raw form. While you’d still want to be careful with it, the polish made these specimens much safer to handle.

One commenter who got dizzy while handling tiger’s eye felt the same way: “I like both, but will be switching to polished crystals as, it has freaked me out about the asbestos in Tiger Eye. I went on to scare myself further reading Malachite is toxic to animals. I want to heal myself not intoxicate myself.” — Pouter, commenter at Aeclectic Tarot Forum

Obviously, there’s not total agreement here, and never will be. It’s natural that sifting through the opinions of many people brings a variety of experiences. Still, I think the pattern is clear: Crystal energy exists in rough, cut and tumbled stones — but the more natural the form, the more direct the transmission of that energy. Unsurprisingly, people tend to feel more raw power coming from rough stones. But in some circumstances, softer energy is more appropriate. And sometimes other considerations, such as toxicity, make tumbled stones the better choice, as a buffer between the raw nature of the stone and the practical realities of human needs.

This is why Ashley advises that professional crystal healers should probably have some rough stones and some tumbled. The rest of us, though, can usually be confident in following our intuition. If, like many people, you feel stronger energy coming from rough stones, you’ll want to take that into consideration when choosing your crystals. But that doesn’t mean rough is always better. If safety, aesthetics, and/or desire for a softer energy lead you to tumbled stones, that’s the right choice for your circumstances.

For a fascinating video discussion of this topic in depth, check out this sample class from Ashley’s crystal healing school: Basic Crystal Healing: Crystal Shapes.

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