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  1. Since the 70's I' ve fired beach sand with pebbles up to about 1/4" using clear glaze to place the sand/pebbles at low fire cone 04 and cone 6 and have never had issues of explosions, crazing or cracking. Actually the firing burns off the impurities/oxidation on the pebbles making whatever color of the pebbles more brilliant. I've gotten my sand/pebble mixture from New England beaches so the composition is primarily black, pink, and white granite. To your point, based on my successes to date, I just recently tried firing semi- precious stones I got at a rock mineral store in AZ as well as petrified wood pieces - not so good results! At cone 6 placed using clear glaze, I got the results in the thread provided in the first response. Since the gems used were silica-based crystal structure, they all turned white! No explosions,crazing or cracking occurred though. So after a discussion with an engineer who works in the coatings business, I was going to try again, this time with a raku firing- lower temp. and very short firing. Again, in reading the threads, this might work...