The Truth about Petrified Wood
The truth about Petrified Wood is that, well, it’s not wood. Not wood at all.
I know, it’s a little disappointing isn’t it?
But not to worry, I think the real story of how Petrified Wood occurs is pretty neat.
The Life of the Tree
A tree takes root, grows, lives and dies. Trees that have died often wear away to nothing through erosion and weathering. They are reduced to dust, carried away on the wind.
Then there are other trees. Trees from as long as 200 million years ago, that were washed to their resting places by raging torrents of water, then covered by sediment.
Those trees, buried under 100s of metres of rock, then underwent a fantastic transformation.
Here comes the neat part. Are you ready?
How Petrified Wood Occurs
Those entombed trees decomposed. Their organic matter was slowly washed away by circulating waters, way down deep. Little by little, those same waters also carried minerals into the cavities they left behind.
This took a while. Over a period of around 100 years, minerals such as silicate, quartz or agate replaced the form and contours of the original trees. Layer by layer, their intricacies were replaced by minerals such that they were, quite literally, reincarnated in stone; petrified.
I do so like the story of a gemstone. Fascinating.
Looking at the timescales also kind of helps me to keep things in perspective.
Some of today was spent spreading out gemstones, sketching jewellery designs and deciding on what I’ll be creating over the coming months. It’s been fabulous.
It’s a sort of beginning, so made me think about starting new things. About energy. About projects, tasks and challenges that are sometimes looking us squarely in the face saying,
“come on, get started!”
It made me think about keeping up momentum.
Ready, Set, Go
Starting out on a new project often requires a fair bit of effort. Especially if you’re standing still right now and planning to get up some speed in one direction or another.
Before you know it, though, things start to feel easier. You’ve got a bit of speed up, some momentum helping to drive you forward. Hey, sometimes there are are even downhill stretches where you can stop pedalling and start free-wheeling!
But watch out …
A friend once recounted how she’d hopped off her bike one day to push it; the hill she was cycling up was too steep. Soon, the road ahead flattened out and she could easily have begun pedalling again, but she just kept walking. It was effortless.
Then the road started to slope downhill and still she walked alongside her bike.
I’m so glad she snapped out of her trance-like state, cycled back and told me the story.
It made me think. About starting. About momentum.
As the design area within my workshop evolves, I’m already salivating at the prospect poring over my collection of gemstones there.
For me, the opal is a sheer celebration of colour.
Opal is amorphous, that is, without a crystal structure. Instead, it is made up of microscopically tiny spheres of silica – you need to magnify them 20,000 times to see them! Beams of light bend and split as they pass through the spheres to produce glorious patterns of coloured light.
It starts with the cracks and cavities left after bones and shells within ancient rocks have crumbled away with time. Through weathering and erosion, this silica gel makes its way into these cavities to form what we know as Opal, with its veritable fiery rainbow of colour within.
Opal is the birthstone for those born in October as well as being the traditional stone of choice for those celebrating their 14th wedding anniversary.
Here, Opal fills the hollows of pebble rock. There is often a fabulous play of colour against a dark base surface.
Bands or leaves of precious Opal are embedded in the matrix rock, the rock in which the opal is found. Often wonderfully decorative and colourful and allowing you to look deep into the opal.
It is incorrect to assume that fiery red flashes of colour that occur in many opals means that it’s a fire opal. In fact, the orangey-red fire opal is usually a more translucent gem.
Doublets and Triplets
The opal doublet is where a slice of opal has been cemented to another material, sometimes glass, which can give it the appearance of a black opal. The opal layer can be a single slice of opal, or sometimes several opal fragments glued together.
An opal triplet is where the doublet has a top layer of colourless quartz which also serves to protect the opal layer.
Whilst these doublets and triplets do not occur naturally, they still have a natural opal element and can be extraordinarily beautiful.
Since the delicate opal is between 3% and 30% water, it makes a perfect pendant where it can safely enjoy the body’s natural humidity. Storing your opal with a little moisture is also a good idea.
Interestingly, the opal is traditionally thought to be a stone of happy dreams and changes.
…and a compass set into the back!
…a unique design all around
…and small enough to wear everyday
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