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Tom K.
Hi and welcome g'4days,,,
If you're going to polish mainly garnets(and have enough of them) I would suggest a vibe tumbler rather then a rotary tumbler.
The vibe units are much more aggressive,faster and will hold the "form" of the garnets better then a rotary which will round the garnets off more.
I can't give you much info on all the brands of vibe units on the market as I only have experience with the Lot-O-Tumbler,,,,

I have 2 of the single units and have run one for almost 20 years without much trouble with it.
The thing with vibes is their capacity in volume/weight and the Lot-O needs at least 3.5 -  4 lbs of rocks to fill the barrel properly.

As you know,garnets are pretty hard and it would take about 7 - 14 days,using 120/220 silicone carbide grit,with grit changes every day, to get the "faces" ground down and smooth enough to go to the next stage of the poishing process.This is a "guesstimation" and not fact as I've never done a full load of garnets but do have a bit of experience in rock tumbling.
I've also heard about using diamond powder,instead of silicone carbide grit, for tumbling hard rocks like garnets but have no experience with it.

I belong to a rock tumbling group that has (by far) the VERY best rock tumbling pros in the entire world!The people there are VERY friendly and VERY knowledgeable not only in rock tumbling but many other aspects of lapidary.
If you're truly interested I suggest you either join the group or just come as a guest,,,,,,
This is the Main page,,,,,

This is the forum,,,,,

If I can help you further,,,,just ask,,,

Tom K.
Mike Streeter
The 2d diamond shape sounds like a side of a dodecahedral garnet, so my guess is your dark colored unknown is an opaque garnet that didn't have enough space to form a complete crystal on all sides.
I went on a dig with my son, and a couple of friends recently, and I didn't know what raw/rough garnets even looked like, but when we came out a few hours later... we all had a nice bit of treasure. I think between all 4 of us we had brought home 2 gallons of all sizes. Now we have to figure out how to get them all clean LOL I have read the posts, and replies, and this has helped me to figure out a game plan for the tumbling process... except some are big as golf balls, and a couple bigger. Got any ideas for them ??? I would appreciate ya for all ideas. I have thought about using a Dremel, and hand sanding, but don't want to ruin the stone. YIKES !!! Or my knuckles  [smile]
Hi, saw the threads on emerald creek garnets. (forgive spelling please) am using a Lorton vib tumbler for a load of them.  only problem I had was I could only fill the tub about half full due to the weight of the garnets. found if I used a handful of rubber band with them they quit bouncing around and started crawling over each other as they should, makes polishing them easier and quicker, but must have patience as garnet take longer to polish, hard stuff!!  if from emerald creek most should have a 4 or 6 pointed star but hard to see unless polished well.  hope this is informative.   also use the vib for opalite, that stuff is very fragile but the vib tumbler doesn't break it up, makes nice polish pieces.  Take care.
Tom K.
Diane ,,,
It would help us to advise you if we knew where you got the garnets from and what quality they are.
I suspect that if some are as big and bigger then golf balls,,,they aren't of good quality?
Tom K.
I just received a large bag of garnets of the northern Idaho creek variety mentioned earlier. My son sent them to me for Mother's Day as he lives near the area. [love] He is so sweet,  he knows I have a tumbler and that I love rocks both polished and not. I am thrilled to find your website and board because I thought it wise to do a little researching before filling up the barrel today. I will start with some of the rocks using the grit on hand and start saving money for a vibration tumbler. Thanks for being here, folks. [thumb] I just retired and moved to central Washington and have found a rock and gem club already. I will post my successes after having something else to share.
Ok i have been in construction my whole life so to me it is pretty safe but you have to be cautious, wear safety glasses ect... but you can purchase a bench grinder at Lowes for under 100 bucks, remove all the gaurds and add a diamond lap blade that you would use on a faceting machine to the side of the grinding wheel, a wet sponge works great to keep it wet, it actually works pretty darn good, I use a basic tile saw to cut the rough and then to bench grinder. The arbor hole is half inch on most lap blades and some bench grinders have variable speed.good luck there is also a way to hook up a basic faceting mast with this set up.
Also...the grinder doesn't get wet as long as you are careful.
40+ years tumbling everything i could find and garnets are an exception to everything else. Been collecting Montana garnets for years; some still have attached material. Tumble the attached garnet in 320 grit until clear of material. RINSE COMPLETLY.
I've only polished one batch of garnets to date (BEAUTIFUL) with another ready in a year.
Scale to your amount: 6# garnets (all were pea size or less) 2 cups rubber bands cut into 1/4-3/4" and 1 cup 600 grit. Thumblers Model B w/12# drum. Thumble for 60 days. Rinse garnets; dry rubber band and seal in a bag marked 600 grit. New 1000 grit drum; same as above +120 days. New drum; pre-polish +180 days; new drum[tongue]olish +1 year.
Is it worth it? A very merry yes.

Kevin g
I am extremely new to gem cutting and polishing and I do it all by hand do you have any tips/tricks for doing it in the most efficient way? I have been successful with other gems such as peridots emeraldsand some wm tourmaline but garnet is quite the battle... as is amethyst
Mike Streeter
Hey Kevin,

By hand, do you mean that you are not using any lapidary equipment or machines?

Just picked up 100 g of Canada garnet for fun, I don't think any of the stones could be faceted but some might work as small cacachons. I would like to tumble most of them. I am using a 3 lb Harborfreight tumbler and have various grits from rough all the way downto ceramide. What grit would you start with and for how long?

Many thanks in advance.
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