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Rock Tumbling for Kids

Posted November 25, 2011 By Admin

At this time of year, we tend to get a number of enquiries from parents wanting to buy a rock tumbler for their children as a gift.

Kids Tumbling Kit - 3A Tumbler with Accessories from Aussie SapphireWe find that many children are already very interested in the rocks and stones they find in their environment and excited to learn more about them.  Tumbling is a fantastic way to encourage and develop this interest.

Rock tumbling is a very simple process and affordable to get started – younger children may need some assistance and/or supervision but this is a really good opportunity to spend time with your children.

Basically rock tumbling is the process where rough rocks are polished into smooth and shiny stones which can be used for a variety of purposes.

We have designed a kit specially for parents needing a gift idea – this kit contains a 3A tumbler and everything you need to get started in one convenient package – great for anyone aged 7 to 107.  If you want to get a bit more serious, we also have a 33B kit which contains the double barrel tumbler.

Types of Tumblers:

Choosing the correct type of tumbler is very important.  “Toy” type tumblers are readily available from Ebay and some toy shops – these are specially designed to appeal as a gift for children but have some serious limitations.  These usually sell for just under $100 and come with a small kit of abrasive grit and rocks so you can get started straight away.  A couple of examples are pictured below:




While these types of tumblers seem very cheap, we do not recommend them for a few reasons:

  • Small barrel size restricts how much rock you can process.
  • Light plastic construction does not last well – we have had reports of barrels cracking and leaking after only 1 or 2 batches.
  • Small size of motor – tends not to last, may fail very quickly – cannot be replaced or repaired.
  • Plastic barrel with lack of sound proofing means these are very noisy to operate.
  • Once they fail, difficult or impossible to get spare parts.

When buying tumblers for children, parents are often concerned whether the interest will be a lasting one.  Even though the “toy” type tumblers are somewhat cheaper compared to good hobbyist machines, their short life span and operating limitations mean that you are likely to be disappointed in your investment.  We find a number of customers upgrading to a Lortone tumbler once their toy tumbler fails (often after only one or two batches) so in these cases, it would have been much better to buy a more reliable machine in the first place.


When selecting a tumbler for children or those new to the hobby, we recommend you purchase a more reliable machine.  If you buy wisely, even if you find that your children lose interest, you should be able to sell your tumbler for a good price.  We believe this is a much better way to go.

lortone-3a    ar1-tumbler

The Lortone 3A is a good choice for this purpose as it is widely sold in Australia, extremely reliable and great value for money.  There are other brands of rotary tumbler in this category such as Thumler which are also good choices.

What to look for:

  • Rock tumbling will always make some noise but the Lortone has a rubber barrel to drastically cut down on noise.
  • Rotary tumblers are very simple but spare parts (drive belts, barrels) are readily available for the Lortone and other good hobbyist machines
  • Motors are designed to work continuously for long periods without any problem – your Lortone tumbler should work trouble free for years with just regular oiling as indicated and perhaps an occasional drive belt replacement.
  • Good re-sale value – there is a strong market for used lapidary gear of good quality.
  •  Versatility – these tumblers are useful for other jobs as well – polishing small metal parts or jewellery, processing glass for mosaic work, and a variety of other arts and craft uses.


Rock tumbling is a slow process  – you wont get results overnight so make sure your kids are prepared for this.  Some of the harder rocks can take weeks to complete (4 – 6 weeks is typical).   This is not a big problem for 2 reasons:  a) your kids will learn the value of patience as they work through the process and b) the weekly cycle of grit changeover can work in well with your lifestyle where we all tend to be busy with school and work during the week but can spend a little time on the weekend with hobbies and activities.

You will need a range of grinding and polishing grits to smooth and polish your rocks.  Replacement grit is readily available and cheap but you will need some to start so check this when purchasing.  Different polishes are used for different types of material so you may find some trial and error is required to fine tune the process.



Not all rocks will polish – a rule of thumb is if the rock is shiny when wet, it should polish well in a tumbler; if it stays dull when wet, it is unlikely to polish well.  You should not polish rocks of very different hardnesses in one batch as the soft rocks may be worn away by the harder ones.

You can tumble other materials – try tumbling pieces of glass for mosaic work or for a “beach glass” effect, pieces of metal or various types of “sea beans”.  These may require different types of polish but the possibilities are endless.

Hope this gives you some information to start with when considering buying a small rock tumbler.  We are always happy to answer questions on this so feel free to contact us.   If you want to do a bit more reading on the subject, see the article on our website.  If you are ready to buy, we suggest our special Kid’s Tumbling Kit with everything ready to go in one package.

Good Luck from Aussie Sapphire

Free Post offer for Earlybird Shoppers

Posted November 1, 2011 By Admin

Less than 8 weeks to go until Christmas – this will fly by so get organised early with our earlybird free post offer.

Simply enter EARLYBIRD at the checkout (step 2 – enter in the discount code box) – this code entitles you to free shipping on orders over $100 for most of our most popular products.

Offer ends 15th November 2011 so get in now.

NOTE:  This offer is not available in conjunction with other discount offers (such as the club or VIP discount). Valid ONLY For eParcel deliveries up to 16kg to Australian delivery addresses. Cannot be used for courier deliveries.

This offer applies to most products with some exceptions such as bulk silicon carbide grit and other tumbling consumables (ceramic/organic/plastic media) or very large items which cannot be sent via Australia Post. It does includes a whole bunch of great Christmas Gift ideas so check our catalogue now. Remember all orders go into our lucky prize giveaway (drawn 15/12/11).

You need to spend AUD $100.00 to use this coupon, on qualifying products.  The coupon is valid between 1/11/2011 and 15/11/2011.

What the best dressed Fossicker is wearing…

Posted October 7, 2011 By Admin

I’m not talking about fashion but what kind of kit makes a fossicker or prospector up with the latest?

Whether you are a fossicker, prospector, rockhound, gold detectorist or mineral collector, you probably have one thing in common:  a love of the great outdoors.  One of the best things about any of those hobbies is that it gets you out in the bush to enjoy all that it has to offer.

However, it does mean you sometimes have to lug a heap of gear into quite remote locations sometimes.  So choosing equipment that is portable tends to make your expeditions a lot more enjoyable – particularly on the return trip to the car!

These photos show Patrick modelling a few of the new gadgets that are designed to make your treaure-hunting life a bit easier.

Generally speaking, a good sized backpack is a must.  The one shown here (RSW3)  is not expensive but will easily fit a set of sieves and pan along with room for a few small accessories and water/lunch.  Has a pocket each side and a separate front pocket – made of canvas so if any excess water will quickly dry off.

For general fossicking, you will usually need a long-handled shovel and a good strong bucket – Sorry, you are just going to have to carry these.

The 20L buckets shown here have a good strong handle and are the right size to fit our new Jobe Classifiers.

Digging tools – there are a range of picks, folding shovels and other assorted hand tools to help get at the gold, gems or minerals you are after.  While some of the smaller tools can fit in the backpack (crevice tool, hand guard chisels, folding shovels, etc), the larger geopicks can be carried in a good belt holder.

We have 2 styles available – the Estwing leather sheath is stylish and very secure while the swivel pick holder shown in the photo here is a bit more versatile as it can handle a variety of sizes/styles and offers more convenient access to your pick.

For the Gold Panner – up to 14″ pans will fit in the backpack comfortably.  The snuffer bottle holder shown in the first photo is a great idea as it prevents your bottle floating down the river – this way it is ready to hand whenever you need it.

For the Detectorist – the Jobe Dig-It is not the cheapest tool around but it is fantastic quality and you will soon find it an essential part of your tool kit.  Marked with graduations to help pinpoint a depth, one edge serrated to cut through roots or tough material, the other side sharp with a notch, slightly concave blade to help scoop and stored in a strong cowhide leather sheath.

If you are a bit more serious about gold, we’ve a great new folding sluice – you can see it in the 3rd photo.  Comes with a convenient shoulder strap or fits easily inside the backpack.  Folds out to a full 50″ or 1.27m length so these are very portable and convenient.

Finally, dont forget one of the most important items – your HAT.  Patrick is modelling one of the very sought after 🙂 ALF hats here – we dont mind what hat you wear as long as you wear it and plenty of sun screen.  Skin cancer is no joke so make sure you cover up and stay safe.

These are just a few of the new items available now at Aussie Sapphire.   We’ve got plenty more in stock so check out the website at aussiesapphire.com.au

Cheers for now from Aussie Sapphire

New Postal Arrangements

Posted October 3, 2011 By Admin

Just letting everyone know that we have new postal arrangements at Aussie Sapphire.

We are now shipping most parcels using Australia Post’s eParcel service.  This new upgraded system offers full item barcoding/identification, signature on delivery and parcel tracking along with our existing transit insurance – emails will be sent containing item consignment numbers so that you can track your parcels online at http://auspost.com.au/track/

This now means that all Aussie Sapphire customers can benefit from a more secure delivery system.  Please review the Shipping Information page on our website to learn more about our freight options.

This has required that our base postage charge must rise from $6 to $7.50 for parcels under 500 grams.  
Please note that we have absorbed the last 3 increases in postage charges by Australia Post – postage increased in September’10, April’11 and July’11.  However, we now have a domestic contract rate with eParcel and so will be able to keep future price increases to an absolute minimum.  Additionally, we can now offer a far more secure and trackable delivery system so you can be keep up to date with your parcel status – something that was impossible with Regular Post and inadequate with Registered Post.  Most parcels (except for low value items) will require signature on delivery.  For some particular remote areas, we may send by Express Post satchel at our discretion if this proves to be more efficient for your location.

We have now re-jigged the Expedited Delivery Option as either Toll Priority or Star Track Express couriers – NOT Express Post.  This Expedited postage option is only available to those customers who have provided a courier-suitable address and indicated on their customer profile that courier delivery is acceptable.  Please ensure that you provide an address where parcels can be signed for or re-delivery fees may be passed on as our couriers charge for any unsuccessful deliveries.

The new base charge for Expedited Delivery is $12.50 for parcels up to 1kg in weight.  
Parcels up to 5kg in weight may be sent by Toll Priority courier for overnight delivery to most areas – this is a satchel service and so is not available if items cannot fit in the bag.  Where parcels can not be sent by air, Star Track Express is used for Road Express delivery – please allow a little more time for this freight option.  Consignment Note numbers are sent by email in both cases and you can track online or by calling the relevant customer service numbers (see our Shipping Info page for links/phone).

Courier is a good option if the items are very small (by air) and you are happy to pay extra for fast service but we would recommend eParcel as more affordable in most cases.  Star Track Express must be used for purchases of large machinery or where the shipment is too heavy to go by post (>20kg).

NOTE:  Please note that you can check on Postage Charges at any time by simply adding the relevant items to the shopping cart and using the Postage Estimator on that page.  You do not need to be logged in or registered to do this so you can assess total charges or adjust your order before committing to buy.  Since the minimum charge is based on 500grams for eParcel and 1kg for courier delivery, we suggest you consider combining orders of small/cheaper items in order to make best use of the Shipping costs.


To celebrate this new system and allow our customers to see how it works for them, we are offering free shipping on any order shipped by eParcel for the next week only.  Simply use the discount code “EPARCEL” at step 2 of the checkout to take advantage of this offer.  Code expires on 10th October 2011 and is only available for parcels up to 15kg sent by eParcel within Australia.





Gyroc Tumblers – How Much Shot?

Posted August 20, 2011 By Admin

The Model B Gyroc Tumbler is a really popular tumbler for jewellery makers – this fast and reliable tumbler is an ideal size for polishing small batches of gold or silver jewellery.  However, it can be difficult to know exactly how much media to use – we get quite a few enquiries on this so thought we’d take a few photographs to help you out on this issue. Please click the link below to see these photographs and rest of the article.

Vibratory tumblers tend to work best when they are filled quite full – for best results you can fill the bowl up to about 15mm from the top.  However, if you use a very heavy media such as stainless steel shot, you run the risk of overloading the tumbler if you add too much.  So if you want to use shot as your polishing media, you need to compromise between adding enough to polish well but not so much that it overloads your tumbler motor.

The Gyroc Model B is rated as a 3 pound tumbler – this means you should try and keep the maximum weight under 3 pounds if possible – ie. when the bowl is loaded with parts, media and water, the total weight should not exceed 1.4kg.

If you buy your stainless steel shot from the USA, you will often find that it is sold in 1 pound lots – this is about 450 grams and in my opinion, is not enough to do the job properly.  Please note that there should be no need to buy your shot overseas – our prices are really competitive so please check before you pay expensive freight costs.  I feel that 1kg is a much more appropriate amount – perhaps even a little bit more.  View the photos further down in this article to see what I mean…

Read the remainder of this entry »