We all know that Nature is a true magician, but it still surprises us with its creativity. If you have ever seen opalized wood, you have witnessed one of its countless miracles!
Opalized wood, or opalized petrified wood, is a type of petrified wood, which has developed an opalescent sheen or, the wood has been completely replaced by opal.
Petrified wood can be of several types, and apart from this one, there is also “agatized wood’, when the wood has been replaced by agate, a form of chalcedony or a microcrystalline quartz, and ‘silicified wood’, where wood that has been substituted with any form of silica, including opal and agate.
In most cases, opalized petrified wood is made of common opal, and it retains its tree-like color and shape. Yet, when precious opal is formed, the stump is covered in magnificent, colorful opal.
While opal usually forms in the cavities of rocks, in tree stumps, the cavities are created as rocks, bones, pine cones, or even small animals are buried into them. When they become rock, silica water fills the gaps, hardens, and creates opal, that fossilizes the object.
A forest buried by a volcanic ashfall is one of the most common environments for the formation of petrified wood. The ash buries the plants, protecting them from decay and insects. Moreover, the ash is rich in easily dissolved silica, which gets carried into the wood by moving groundwater.
Therefore, petrified wood in large concentrations can be found in Brazil, Russia, Indonesia, Mexico, Arizona, Wyoming, and Oregon.
In most cases, opalized wood does not become precious opal. Therefore, it is less valuable, less durable, and more susceptible to abrasion. It will have lower hardness and tenacity than precious opal and will be less suitable for jewelry and other products.
Regardless, opalized wood always looks stunning!