You don’t need to be a rockhound to have heard about wood opal stones. The last couple of years these incredible gemstones have been all the rage in the jewelry world. With only a limited amount of raw material available, the price can be quite high for a piece of beautiful jewelry made with wood opal.
But what is wood opal stone? Where is it found? And why is it so valuable? Read on for the answers to all your questions about wood opal.
What is wood opal stone, and where is wood opal found?
Wood opal, also known as opalized wood or opal wood, is actually petrified wood with blue opal. The source was only found in 2017 in Indonesia.
An ancient forest near 3 of Indonesia’s volcanoes in the West Java province was covered by volcanic flow and over time was petrified and preserved. Once the trees’ organic material (the wood) actually decomposed, (which took thousands of years) it was replaced with opaline silica. The water in that silica was very rich in dissolved copper, iron, and manganese. Those mineral deposits are now found inside this blue opal! Pretty cool huh?
The dissolved minerals are what give wood opal such a variety of colors and often create picture or landscape type deposits in the stone, making it the perfect raw material to cut incredible gemstones from.
What different types of wood opal stone are there?
There is a huge variety of wood opal stones. Some are mostly brown, others are mostly blue or green. They can be pink or red, pretty much any color. As mentioned, it is the variety of trapped minerals which account for the variety of colors.
Many wood opal stones contain dendrites, or crystal formations that resemble trees. Dendrites form when water rich in manganese and iron flows between layers of rock, depositing these crystals. These often create stones which resemble a landscape painting.
Other wood opal stones look so much like a beach, you almost feel you are looking at an arial view of the ocean. These mostly blue and green stones contain a lot of copper. I often refer to these as “beach stones”. They are a popular choice for jewelry making.
Another type of wood opal you will see is more green, often with translucent layers and often containing copper flecks. This is referred to as opalized wood with “native copper” and is considered quite rare and valuable.
Is wood opal valuable?
As with most gemstones, what makes wood opal valuable is its rarity. Only recently discovered, it quickly became popular amongst jewelry makers and collectors, but there is only so much of this raw material available. Already, it is becoming much more difficult to attain and the high-quality pieces are very rare.
As a jewelry maker, I fell in love with wood opal a few years ago and have already found it to be quite difficult to find good quality pieces with the colors I want to use. I have a nice collection of these stones, but they really are becoming quite rare.
Like some turquoise mines which have become “mined-out”, eventually wood opal will no longer be available, meaning its value will only increase. If you see a piece of wood opal that you love, don’t wait to buy it, you probably won’t get another chance!
Where is the best place to buy wood opal jewelry?
You may be able to find some wood opal pieces in a jewelry store, but they are definitely not mainstream. Your best bet will be at art shows or by finding a jewelry artist you like to work with.
Since wood opal is a favorite of mine, I often have available pieces of wood opal jewelry in my online shop. Click here to shop wood opal pieces.
As I mentioned earlier, I also have a nice collection of these stones, most of which are available for custom orders. If you would like to discuss a custom order, or just want to see what stones I have currently, simply click the button below.