Polished Crystal versus Natural (unpolished) Crystal: What’s the Difference?

photo from curiogrove.com

example of polished crystal points (photo credit curiogrove.com)

I often get questions about polished crystal and how it differs from natural crystal. When I talk about polished crystal I am referring to crystal which has had its sides and or faces cut and polished with a machine, like the picture above. 

natural unpolished quartz crystal

natural unpolished quartz crystal (photo credit: Arkansas Crystal Works)

Natural crystal is crystal which has not had its shape altered and remains the same as it was when it grew in the earth. The crystals above are natural (unpolished) crystals.

Sometimes crystal is polished because of surface dings or marring caused from the mining process. Lots of Brazilian points come to us completely polished; termination, bottom, and sides. At times just one side or face and the base (which is usually beveled as well), will be polished while the rest of the crystal is left in its natural state.  Sometimes the crystal points are so damaged that they would be unusable (due to sharp edges, etc), so in these cases it is really beneficial and best for the crystal that they do this.


example of points polished with centrally located terminations (photo credit: CoyoteRainbow Etsy.com)

Many times a point will be polished into a Generator (six equal faces with a centrally located point) or even Channeler or Dow. However, while the termination may have been ground or polished externally into that shape, the internal structure is still going to have the energy of the configuration prior to the polishing.

drawing of side and top view of a Generator quartz crystal

drawing of side and top view of a Generator quartz crystal

To demonstrate, let’s take a look. Imagine a crystal in your mind’s eye. Grasp the crystal around the body, turn the crystal and look straight down into the termination of the point. Imagine it as a clock face. In a Generator crystal, for example, all the faces will come together in the middle and the tip of the crystal will be in the very center of the clock face.

Let’s imagine a crystal which has its tip or termination leaning over to one side (as the crystal in the photo below). As we know, the energy of the crystal will spiral up the body and out the tip.


discrepancy in energy flow

Understand that this crystal which originally had a non-centrally located termination has a natural energy flow which is spiraling up and out left or right of center. If this leaning-termination-oriented crystal were physically altered, the energy would still want to come out where the termination used to be (rather than the center). If were artificially polished or ground into the shape of a Generator configuration (tip in the center of the clock face), the energy will still end up coming out the center, but it won’t be as intensely focused out the center as a crystal which occurred in that configuration naturally. In the picture, I have drawn the actual energy flow of this natural crystal point in tan. I drew in pink where they would probably trim and polish this crystal. You can see in this pretend cut and polished crystal the energy wants to come out sort of off-center so it will have to re-direct to come out the new now centrally-located tip.

This is the reason people sometimes feel that polished crystals aren’t as “powerful” as natural crystals. In truth, what they are feeling is the discrepancy between the directional flow that the artificially polished termination indicates the energy is going and the flow it actually has determined by the internal molecular structure. I think innately we feel this difference and notice something is “off” but can’t put our finger on it.

energy flow vs cut

I have found the energy can seem “muted” or less intense in polished points, and I attribute that to the fact that the surface features have all been ground away. Pictured left is another natural crystal with pink energy line and tan proposed cut termination. In this example, the sides of this point would also be ground away. As you can see, Barnacles, Keys, Crystal Imprints, as well as Self Healing, Bridges and multiple terminating bases such as Extra-Terrestrials would be lost. Also lost to polishing are surface features such as Lineated Sides and Faces, Record Keepers, Etching and Sacred Sigils.

It is important to note that a polished natural quartz crystal is still sentient and still works with us but the energy may feel less “raw”, “natural” or “immediate”. There is no better or worse, there is no right or wrong. It is simply helpful to have the knowledge about the differences between the two to help you understand what you may be experiencing.

If you pick up a new crystal and it is polished or have one in your current family of crystals, sit with it a moment. Feel the energy. Decide whether it is a match for you based on how you connect, not whether or not it is natural or polished. Depending on your needs and the co-creative contract you make with the crystal, a polished point can be a very useful friend to have. You can never go wrong if you decide in the moment from a place of non-judgement. This is a good practice to follow in many areas, is it not?

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About Genn

Genn John has been acting as the legs for the Crystal People as the Keeper at Arkansas Crystal Works, an internet-based source for crystals and crystal knowledge, since 1995. Having accepted the honor to be their voice as well, she is the author of Understanding The Crystal People: A Handbook for Lightworkers; a crystal reference book for people who desire to fully understand their connection to the crystal kingdom and who wish to enhance their working knowledge of these majestic beings. Genn has also published a 4 part series of coloring books which are a useful tool for anyone with an interest in learning the anatomical structures of quartz crystals. It features precise, extraordinary hand-drawn designs crafted especially for easy coloring and interactive study. Find the store and more at www.arkansascrystalworks.com, or her blog at www.crystalgenn.com. To connect: email - genn@arkansascrystalworks.com, facebook - https://www.facebook.com/ArkansasCrystalWorks, Instagram - gennjohn or Twitter @GennJohn.

34 Responses to Polished Crystal versus Natural (unpolished) Crystal: What’s the Difference?

  1. Kat says:

    Hi Genn, thanks for your informative writings! You answered a good bit of my questions about natural vs artificially cut points, but the other half I’m hoping you might be able to help with: how do you tell when a crystal point is natural or when it has been cut into a natural-looking point (as opposed to the obvious artificially perfect polished points)? I used to assume a lot of quartz crystals were artificially cut into a natural-looking shape, because the faces looked too smooth and sometimes have these rough edges, lines, and divots that look like when you cut glass with a machine (sorry if that doesn’t make sense). Also I read quartz crystals firm naturally ONLY in 6 sided points, is that true? Then I got a “natural” quartz point pendant, in a metal finding, so that it had “points” on both ends, but I naturally assumed one was natural and one was cut by machine. It clearly has a rougher “real” point, cloudy w several tiny points, at one end and what looks like a machine cut point at the other (clearer) end. It has 6 faces but what I assumed to be the artificial point has only about 3 planes on the end and irregular faces, that just looks randomly machine cut, like they took a big quartz cluster and cut down into it to divide it into artificial points (I wish I could post a picture), but maybe that’s wrong. Anyway, I feel like some of my quartz crystals look exactly like that artificial looking end, like the whole thing was cut out by a machine. Now I’m completely confused. Is quartz regularly cut into natural looking points from a large block, or are they all natural but just smoothed? How do I tell a what’s a natural quartz point and what’s an artificially cut one? Sorry, trying not to be too long, but this has bothered me for a while. Thank you!!

    • Genn says:

      Hey Kat! It was a little hard to follow your description, you can send me an email at genn@arkansascrystalworks.com with your pictures and I can help more specifically with that one… But here’s the thing: natural crystals come out of the ground with 6 sides and 6 facets (sometimes it may be less due to things such as breakage and re-healing, or Growth Interference), but generally speaking, they will have 6 sides and 6 facets and they do look like they have been manufactured that way! It’s amazing. Now, with your double terminated point, it might be faceted by man on one end or it may be natural (they do come naturally with a termination on each end, it is called “Double Terminated”.)

      The best way to tell if a crystal has been polished or is natural is to look at the sides and facets. Sides almost always (and nearly without exception) will have what is called “Lineation”, which is a growth pattern. It looks like fine parallel lines (parallel to the bottom edge of the facets). Imagine a hexagonal box (that is the body) wearing a hexagonal pointed hat (that is the faceted end or termination). The box part will have fine (and sometimes heavy) horizontal grooves on all the sides. If the side appears slick, shiny and polished (no grooves) then it has been polished (but not necessarily cut). Same with the facets (the hat). The facets will often have markings on them (Sigils, Record Keepers, Lineation, random markings (sometimes they don’t). But look for these. (See the blog post on Record Keepers and how to view surface features). It can be confusing, but once you know what to look for it really isn’t. I hope this explanation has helped to clear it up a bit for you! I’m happy to answer further questions as they come up, either here or by email.

  2. alf says:

    Hi Genn. Love your articles, so much helpful information! I have been collecting Dow crystals, and am just now realizing some of them might be artificially polished into a Dow tip. If they are polished, would they most likely be a non-natural Dow? Or are they sometimes polished along natural planes, so that it is a true Dow, but polished? Wondering how I would be able to know the difference. Thank you

    • Genn says:

      Hey Alf! Thanks for reading the blog posts! I’m glad you are enjoying them! Well, this is a little difficult to answer, because it depends on the crystal and how it presents. One way to know for CERTAIN is if there is a phantom in one of your Dows. If the Phantom doesn’t match the crystal (say the phantom is NOT a Dow, but the polished crystal IS) then it is not a natural Dow. (And likewise, if the Phantom IS a Dow, then the polished Dow was natural but amended of dings.) There would be other clues to check, such as how the sides line up to the facets. But, the best way to know is on a case by case basis, and even then it is difficult to know for certain. It is also certainly possible to have a naturally occurring Dow that had chips and dings and the seller decided to polish out the dings, keeping the Dow configuration intact. So to boil it down for you, (I’m sorry to say) there really isn’t a litmus test that will work with every crystal (to tell whether it was polished true to form). Thanks so much for your excellent question!

      • Alf says:

        Oh that helps very much thank you ! I do have a polished Dow crystal with many phantoms and they line up perfectly with the shape of the crystal point. So I can be confident this is a natural Dow ?

        • Alf says:

          What I mean is , the lines of the phantom are parallel with the lines of the crystal edges. I can’t tell if the phantom itself has a 7-3-7-3-7-3 configuration.

          • Genn says:

            If the internal termination of the Phantom mirrors the external termination of the crystal, then yes, it’s a natural Dow. If you look at the Phantom, you will be able to tell if the Phantom termination DOESN’T match (for example, if the point is coming out in a different direction). Sometimes Phantoms aren’t complete (just one side shows), and with these you can’t be sure about the shape. However, if you have a complete phantom, then it will show you the shape of the termination before it was polished. The sides will all be parallel, regardless (unless the sides were heavily polished and reshaped as well, which is less often the case). It’s the termination of the Phantom you’re looking at. I hope this helps! And at any rate, whether or not the crystal is a natural Dow or polished in that way, it is still very powerful and just as “worthy” as a “naturally occurring” Dow. I guess I am saying not to get hung up on textbook descriptions, which were all created by humans. Crystals don’t separate themselves by name or type. That’s a human construct. So, enjoy your polished crystals!! Thanks so much for your questions, it helps to clarify!

  3. Chandreyee says:

    Wow, I hope this blog isn’t dead given the age. That said, I constantly feel ‘drawn’ to crystals & stones that have either been carved into something or those crystals that have been smoothed out or appear as smooth as possible in a natural state. Any ideas on why this is? I’ve been this way since I was little and had started collecting ‘rocks.’

    • Genn says:

      Hey Chandreyee! not dead! Glad you found the post! lol … As a child I had a blanket that was a specific texture (very soft) and I would rub it between my fingers obsessively. It had to be that blanket. No other blanket (no matter how soft) had the exact “feel” as that one. Some people are more drawn to soft tactile sensations than others. I find smooth stones very soothing and relaxing. Perhaps this is the case for you as well? Whatever the case, keep enjoying your smooth stones!

  4. Bill Dickey says:

    I am looking at 2 different brands of crystal chandeliers. One says it is hand cut crystals. The crystals have some color and appear heavier. The other chandelier says hand polished glass crystals. It seems to lack color and is lighter in weight. Is there any difference? Thank you.

    • Genn says:

      Hey Bill! I don’t know anything about crystal chandeliers. My guess is that the hand cut crystal chandelier is lead crystal (not quartz crystal)… and the glass one, well, is glass, which would not be a stunning as lead crystal. Here’s a little bit I found after a very short Google search which explains why the “hand cut crystal” one is heavier and blingier than the polished glass. Plus sharper edges would throw more light than smoothed edges (think diamond ring): Excerpt from webstaurantstore dot com : “Lead crystal is a kind of glass that contains lead oxide. The addition of lead oxide raises the glass’s refractive index, a measurement of how fast light passes through something. This means that lead glass has a more reflective appearance than traditional glass.” Hope this helps!

  5. Kayci says:

    So I have a favorite quartz crystal that I love that has some beautiful inner rainbows but they were difficult to see because the sides were covered with Horizontal lines and etchings. So I polished a few of the sides you could see the rainbow from the best in order to see it better then found out more about Lineated Sides and Faces, Record Keepers, Etching and Sacred Sigils, etc. after the fact and am now worried I may have lost valuable knowledge/energy in polishing those sides. Do the energies of those characteristics become lost with polishing? Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this!

    • Genn says:

      Hey Kayci! You have lost the physical signs (“proof”) of those manifestations, yes. Long story short, I think the energy still remains and you haven’t lost knowledge or information (or the ability to connect to said knowledge and information). A person who wasn’t acquainted with the crystal (and only knows it in its polished state) wouldn’t have any idea that those features were there. That being said, YOU know the features were there before you polished them off. You can try to connect to the image you have in your mind of what was there and work with the energy in that way. For instance, I believe that you can still “unzip” the crystal, even though you polished away the Lineation on the sides. Hope this helps answer your question! Don’t despair, and enjoy your Rainbows.

      • Kayci says:

        Thank you for answering that for me! There are still lineations and markings on the other sides and I had owned the crystal for a while before I felt the need/urge to polish it and once I got the idea it stayed strong with me until I did it. I don’t feel that the energy of the crystal has changed but when I discovered that there were intentions tied with those characteristics I did feel disappointed that I hadn’t made more specific note of and paid closer attention to the features that were there before! Your answers have put me at ease! Thank you!

        • Genn says:

          My pleasure, Kayci! Nothing is ruined, all is well! It sounds like the crystal urged you to polish it for better access to the Rainbow, and you simply followed its directions. Be glad you followed the guidance you were given, no need for second guessing! Good job and… happy rainbowing!

  6. Melissa Goss says:

    I am so grateful for all your knowledge imparted here on your site! I have tons of crystal books and have taken courses that don’t cover all of this wisdom. My question is…I recently purchased a double dow from Brazil that is polished. Can I assume it was never really a dow at all?

    • Genn says:

      Hey Melissa! Thanks for your comments! I’m glad you’re finding the blog posts helpful! Well, there’s just no way to know for certain, unfortunately, since it has been polished. The only way you could know for CERTAIN is if there was a Dow Phantom inside. But the odds that it was a SINGLE Dow are fairly slim, but certainly possible, but a DOUBLE Dow the odds are astronomical. I would say it would be fair to say it was polished into a Dow configuration. I am sure it is still lovely, and it still has great power and merit. My advice is don’t discount it just because it doesn’t fit the slot you thought it should fit in. ENJOY IT!

  7. Kelley Eidem says:

    Thank you for your excellent description. It makes great sense. You’ve gone beyond opinion to an actual reason for why rough stones would behave differently.

    It is taught in anatomy and physiology that structure determines function. Alter the structure and the function will also be altered.

    I do have some polished hematite. I love the way it makes me feel due to its beauty. But now, with your description have a much greater appreciation for rough stones and will be using that information as a priority in most cases.

    As the inventor of the Whirling Bliss Machine, seeing your visuals of the spirals coming through the stones clinched the deal. Everything natural whirls, doesn’t it.

    • Genn says:

      Hey Kelly! Yes, whirls all around! I’m glad you found the information helpful. I still really like polished stones, as well, and they certainly do serve an important purpose! Sometimes due to breaks and etc a stone is better able to be worked with if polished… So they are all equally helpful, just in different ways. Thanks for your comment!

  8. ammu says:

    nice explanation Henn i came to know many about crystals thank you …

  9. Ally Avey says:

    I’d like a dbl terminated black tourmaline for healing. Size? The bigger the better, I suppose.
    Would this ever occur in nature?
    AND, in a natural occurring stone, if there are no natural points, will this negate it’s active powers for cleansing, having no directions?
    Thank you sincerely,

    • Genn says:

      Hey Ally! I don’t have any cut/polished tourmaline, but I do have some pretty large pieces, natural. I don’t know that much about stones other than quartz crystal but I don’t THINK tourmaline comes naturally double terminated. If anyone if reading this and knows otherwise, feel free to chime in! I can email you with pictures of the tourmaline I DO have. As for the question about no naturally occurring points, they are still powerful for all the same reasons as one with a point, but the energy is simply less focused or directed, but they are just as powerful in my opinion. I guess if you use the analogy of a crayon… one with a point would be easier to direct the color into a smaller area, but a broken crayon still is as colorful and vibrant, you just have to be more creative in how you put it to use. I’ll email you in a bit with the tourmaline options. Thanks for your comments!

  10. Stephen Cuthbert says:

    In my view we are human if you walk past a new shop and the window is whitened out so you could not view what was in the shop then you would just simpely walk straight past with out giving it a second look but if the shop window was nice cleaned and polished you can see what is in the shop window you would stop and look and then something catches your eye and you end up taking it home so if it was all dulled up you could not see rainbows-numbers-animals-faces-phantoms-letters, so you could say more people own crystals because the are drawn to them buy what they see inside them and as for the exiting point of the power, energy flows with the least resistance like water will follow the line of the item it is on without any trouble and then leaves at the point.
    Also it is grown in the ground and stars of at a single point and expands and will come up against a hard surface and push against it the same way a plant does and it is the force of the ground it is pushing against the gives the point of the crystal it point shape so I be-leave by reshaping the point you are in fact bring it back to the way it wanted to grow in the first place.
    So I be-leave the energy start point is at the centre of the crystal and goes straight up.

  11. I prefer polished crystals when the polishing reveals an inner world that the rough surface hid.
    To sit and view this inner world is a visual trip and not as focused on the energy coming from the crystal.
    I like your explanation of the original flow of energy and the crystal’s struggle to keep that flow.
    I always hope that, with a Dow, for instance, the original facets were a Dow formation and the cutting and polishing respected that.

    • Genn says:

      Hey Anne! I agree. Sometimes the sides are too rough to get a good view, so in these cases, polished sides ARE helpful in order to really “get in there” and have a good wander around! Thanks for commenting!

  12. Hi Genn, Thanks for this great post! I had wondered about this myself. And the Universe answered me thusly (and my crystal friends are OK with this, BTW): I saw a Kirlean picture of a leaf, which showed the leaf in its physical form and the energetic outline of the leaf. The next picture was the leaf torn in half – it showed the leaf in its altered physical form and the original energetic outline of the leaf was still there. It is my belief that the same energetic “signature” is active in crystals, such that individual crystal points actually are “carrying” the energy of the original cluster/vug they grew in/on, for instance. So when I look at polished crystal points, I am wondering what the total underlying energy is, because I believe the energy of barnacles and such may be physically lost with the cutting/polishing process, but they are not actually lost energetically. I find I am drawn to polished crystals with rainbows and other inner “goodies”. Actually, let’s face it, I am drawn to all crystals, and I simply want one of each. 🙂 Love and peace!

  13. Ann says:

    I have always instinctively gone for the unpolished crystals, feeling that they had more power, but lately I find myself also drawn toward certain polished specimens. Something about the way they look, the way they feel, just draws me in, but unpolished crystals will always be my first choice.

    • Genn says:

      Hey Ann! Yes, like you said, polished crystals can certainly draw you in. At times, they do the same for me! But like you said, I am more drawn to the unpolished. For me it is because there is so much more to see on an unpolished point (surface features and etc) and also it is just amazing to know they grow like that naturally. Thanks for commenting! 🙂

  14. Wow, Genn! GREAT information! I did not know this! Of course, it makes perfect sense, really. 🙂 I was going to ask how we would know what the true energy of a polished crystal might be, and you already answered my question! lol I thought at one point that maybe the crystals would be offended by our altering their natural look…as I sat and asked my crystals this question, they let me know that they are happy to be able to assist us in our daily lives, no matter how they might be altered physically. Their lessons and messages remain the same. Does that make any sense to you? Thanks again for the great information! 🙂

    • Genn says:

      Hey Kim! Yes. Makes perfect sense. I, too, wondered if we were hurting their feelings or damaging them in some way when we polished them. Truth is, lots of crystals are damaged in the mining process. It’s not an easy birth. Because commercial mining is primarily about money (it’s a costly endeavor, mining! I’m not implying that commercial miners are greedy), damaged crystal = unusable crystal. And this isn’t just because it is “not pretty”, but because broken crystal can cut you like broken glass. Making your customer’s bleed isn’t good for business 😉 . Sometimes the only way to salvage a point is to cut and polish away the damaged areas. The people doing this know that certain shapes sell better than other shapes (and can be more aesthetically pleasing). One of those shapes is a Generator (centrally located tip), so they grind (and polish) the point to make that shape. So, I agree! The crystals know this and are happy to serve, in whatever form that takes. They realize better than us that the body is just a vehicle. Thanks for the comment!

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