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Grading and Sizing of Crystals

posted on 16 July 2016 | posted in Articles

Have you ever noticed that some crystal shops or retailers may sell a specific crystal for, lets say 3 and yet another shop or retailer may sell what looks like the same crystal for only 1. Why is this ?

The difference in price, is of course, down to size and quality.

So how are crystals graded ?

Lets look at tumbled stones first. These are graded firstly according to their size, the smallest size being "chip", i.e. those very small irregular shaped pieces often strung together on wire or elastic to make bracelets and small earrings that you often see at craft fairs etc.

The next two sizes up are "small" and then "medium" and these are often the pieces that are sold in gift shops and by folk whose main business may not be selling crystals, but who nevertheless like to have a few crystals for sale.

"Large" is the next size and then "Extra Large" and finally "Jumbo". Now wherever possible, here at He Hi She Lo, we try to only stock the Large and Extra Large sizes of tumbled stones. We really like our customers (i.e. you ! ) to have and to hold pieces of tumbled stones that you can see and feel are a good size.

Some crystals though, such as Peridot and Phenacite and Iolite, just don't form large crystals to start with and so it's really, really hard to find larger sized stones in some types of crystal such as these.

Now, as well as size, tumbled stones are further graded by quality. The lowest quality is usually D grade. C grade is better than D, B grade is better than C and A grade is better than B.

The biggest influence on quality is clarity. Generally speaking, the clearer a stone is, the higher grade it is allocated. Not all crystals are clear or see-through of course and for those that are opaque then the allocated grading is higher the "nicer" the stone looks.

As we hope you may have guessed by now over 90% of the stones we stock at He Hi She Lo are A grade or above.

Hang on a minute. I thought A grade was the top grade. Is there something above A grade then ? Well, yes there is. Some crystals that are of excellent quality and exhibit or display all of the expected characteristics of that stone are graded AA. Given the choice, here at He Hi She Lo we will always pick the AA grade stones over the A grade ones when they are available.

Gem Quality stones are the absolute top notch stones and this grading is usually reserved for see-through crystal-clear stones with virtually no blemishes at all. Gem Quality stones are normally the reserve of the jewellery trade who use such stones to make high quality, and often very expensive, jewellery.

Lets turn now to Rough and/or Natural pieces of stone. These are natural pieces of stone that have not been tumbled and the price of such pieces is influenced by many things.

As well as size - is it a small piece or a large piece ? - you also have to consider quality, and in rough stone quality is usually indicated by "1st Quality" being the highest grade and then "2nd Quality" being a grade lower and then "3rd Quality" usually being the lowest grade of mineral or rock.

The overriding thing to bear in mind with rough and natural rock is that each piece is an individual, nature rarely makes two things identical !

For example, lets take a cluster of natural Quartz. Such a cluster with lets say 5 nice crystal points growing from its base, where all 5 points are nice, but shall we say "ordinary", will always be less expensive than the same cluster of Quartz where 2 or 3 of the points are crossing each other, or have smaller crystals growing on each point, or 2 or 3 of the points have rainbows in them, or the whole piece has a more pleasing shape, or ... well, you get the idea !

Rarity of course is also a major factor influencing the price of rough and natural minerals. As well as rarity, availability is another factor to take into account with rough pieces, for example, some minerals can only be mined in the summer months as mines may be inaccessible during the winter time or the rainy season.

Never the less, where possible, here at He Hi She Lo we always try to stock 1st Quality natural pieces that have interesting shapes, patterns, points, colours etc.

So whether it is a small tumbled stone or a large natural piece that you are after, we hope that we can supply you with something that is of excellent quality, a good size to hold, and something that you can love and treasure for many years.


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