Shipping crystals, particularly fragile ones, can indeed be daunting. Here are some tips to help prevent breakage during transit.



We all know that crystals are fragile, and we've seen what can happen when you hand a box to the post office. Some of us can picture Ace Ventura kicking the box he's supposed to deliver down the hall. Always assume this will happen with your parcels. Assume some careless teenage boy will show it to his friends, and as soon as he sees a "fragile" sticker, he's going to drop it and laugh. Here's how to pack crystals to ensure nothing breaks.

The Two Golden Rules

  1. Prevent Movement Within the Box: If there's movement, things will break. The parcel must be stuffed with additional paper to keep everything stationary. Once taped shut, you should be able to shake it violently without anything budging.
  2. Prevent Stone-on-Stone Contact: Each stone must be wrapped individually. The only exception is when you shrink-wrap a bag of tumbles or rough rock compactly so nothing can move. Make the bag of small rocks dense and compact with shrink wrap or packing tape, then wrap it as if it is one stone. This only works with non-fragile rocks.

Appropriate Paper Weight

Depending on how fragile something is, the paper weight must match. The standard to use is newsprint, which is thin enough to contour around stones. Everyday printer paper is too thick and doesn't fit into the grooves, often springing back into its original form. Never use printer paper.

Newsprint is very affordable. I buy sheets 30” x 25” and cut them smaller if needed. I often have excess newsprint saved from when I purchased the stones. I wrap the crystals I am about to ship in new newsprint and stuff the box with other varieties. This makes it easy for the person unwrapping to distinguish which bundles contain crystals and which are just filler. Stickers can be added to each bundle with a rock in it.

Additional Wrapping Techniques

For more fragile rocks, like those with crystal tips or points, I bundle toilet tissue paper on the crystals before wrapping them in newsprint.

Bird Nesting Method: Wrap the perimeter of the mineral, usually the matrix, with multiple rounds of toilet tissue. This nest resembles bumpers on a bumper car (or the ring around Saturn). Once the nest is formed, weave the rest of the tissue through the various points, layering it on. The bird nesting around the perimeter focuses the tension on it, rather than on delicate crystals.

The only time I use gift box tissue paper is if I’m wrapping the crystal as a gift. Always wrap based on fragility first, with toilet tissue if necessary, and then newsprint. Lastly, wrap it in colorful tissue paper for a more aesthetic appearance.

When wrapping newsprint around crystals, I don’t fold it neatly. I make a messy scrunched-up ball, creating air pockets within the paper. These folds act like springs, and the air pockets serve as cushions.

Using Plastic for Extra Fragile Stones

For extremely fragile stones, such as a scolecite burst, I use plastic bags like those for vegetables or fruit at a grocery store. Ask a local grocery store for a roll; it should cost around $15. This thin plastic doesn’t leave tissue fibers on the stone. Pillow it on the bottom of the box, place the crystal in midway, and continue layering the plastic around the crystal. The crystal can be wrapped with it but need not be. Float it in the center, using your best judgment to avoid crushing any part of the rock, but ensure the box is securely padded so the crystal won’t move.

Creating a Hard Shell for Delicate Crystals

For very delicate crystals, a hard shell is necessary. I often use boxes within boxes, especially for parcels with multiple stones. When there is a large rock or a heavy item along with a very light, delicate one, the delicate one must be kept in its own secure container to prevent the weight of the other from crushing it. Tupperware is a good option, and there are plenty of hard plastic tubs at dollar stores that are well worth the cost when the stone is worth hundreds or even thousands.

Other methods people use, but I don’t recommend, include egg cartons for small thumbnails. Bubble wrap is generally only useful for large stones. For small stones, it is unnecessary. For example, when a fragile stone weighs 15 lbs or more, it can crush itself under its own weight. In such cases, wrap the stone in lots of tissue and newsprint to create a bundle, then wrap the bundle in multiple layers of bubble wrap. Use medium or small bubble sizes, as large bubbles are the least effective.

Additional Tips and Shipping Methods

Shrink Wrap: Cheaper than tape and easier for the client to unwrap. It comes in small rolls approximately 6 inches long, which are easy to handle when packing standard shipments. When wrapped around a baggie multiple times, it acts the same way tape would.

Insert photo here of shrink-wrapped rocks. From baggie of them to densified rocks.

Marking the Top: Always mark the top of a large, fragile crystal. If a crystal is big enough to crush itself under its own weight, the person unwrapping it needs to know the bottom and top to avoid applying pressure to a susceptible area during unwrapping.

Parcel Handling: There is no top or bottom to a parcel going into the post office. Parcels will roll around on conveyor belts, bounce, and get hit by other boxes. If you have any doubt about dropping that box from 3 feet in the air, you need to rewrap it.

Consider if you were shipping it to yourself. Do you feel confident it would arrive intact?

Sealing the Box: Use standard packing tape, but put three strips down the center seam to reinforce the weak area. If the box is heavy, use duct tape and wrap all three axes with two wraps each.

For an additional cost, double-walled boxes are available, but this isn’t necessary if the box is reinforced from within with additional paper.

Shipping Methods: Talk to your local shipping office about protective parcel services. USPS, for example, offers an option to ship the parcel in a tote that will stay upright and be handled with care. Though more expensive, it’s worth knowing about. It is least expensive to send one box rather than two to the same location. Therefore, it makes sense to put boxes within boxes securely with padding between them. Ship them as one rather than multiple.

Government post services like Canada Post or USPS are the most economical, while courier services like UPS, DHL, and FedEx are more expensive but offer faster shipping times to foreign countries. Freight, meaning by pallets or skids, is the best way to move expensive and/or large items as it has the least impact on your parcels.