Hot Gemstones for 2018: Introducing New Petrified Wood with Blue Opal

Don’t you just love happy surprises? I know most of you do! Because I get emails about how much you enjoy seeing and learning about new gemstones in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist.

hot new gemstones: manakarra "grape stone" from the November 2016 Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist magaznie

Hot Gemstones of 2017: Manakarra

Last year, the big favorite was Manakarra, the “grape stone”  (right) that so many of you fell in love with. When Manakarra was introduced in the November 2016 issue of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist, you thought it was gorgeous, but you loved it even more when you saw it as the exciting new stone last year in Tucson. Well, you are in for a treat this year!

Now I have the history of this year’s new stone to share with you. It makes a great story when you offer information about a gemstone’s history and place of origin to your customer. My customers always ask, “Where is this stone from?” I have discovered that when I have a great story about the gemstones I use in jewelry, the customer is also interested, and it boosts more and higher-priced sales. Here is what is hot in the world of gemstones for Tucson 2018.

mining hot new gemstones: petrified wood with blue opal and native copper from Indonesia

Hot Gemstones of 2018: Petrified Wood with Blue Opal and Native Copper

This year’s new surprise stone is stunningly yummy, gemmy and rare–and it has a long name! Petrified Wood with Blue Opal and Native Copper (yes, that’s its official name) is the hot new stone for Tucson this year. Thanks to geologist Joel Ivey for his information and photos of the actual mine and the rough from which these gemstones come, and to Mark Lasater of The Clamshell for the photo of the finished cabochon.

hot new gemstones: petrified wood with blue opal and native copper rough from Indonesia

Petrified Wood with Blue Opal was first found as pebbles and larger rounded stones (“cobbles”) in streams and near the slopes of three volcanoes in Indonesia’s West Java Province. The source deposit was finally located on the steep slopes of Mt. Tjikolak a mere 10 months ago. What the miners actually found was an ancient petrified forest (how cool is that?), which had been pushed over by the deluge of “stuff” (pyroclastic flow) from a volcanic explosion. Then, over the ages, the wood was fossilized and preserved by opaline silica. In my mind’s eye, I see all those fallen trees on the slope after the eruption of Mount St. Helens, covered with other layers of the debris of thousands of years in the future.

hot new gemstones: petrified wood with blue opal and native copper rough from Indonesia

How Does Petrified Wood with Blue Opal Form?

Now this is where it gets really interesting! Once the tree’s 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 copper and manganese deposits are now found inside this blue opal!

hot new gemstones: logs of petrified wood with blue opal and native copper from Indonesia

The opalized brownish color on the outside of the stones is obviously petrified wood, but magic is inside . . . the lush, rich blue is feathered with manganese and native copper dendrites, some which look like snowflakes or feathers.

hot new gemstones: petrified wood with blue opal and native copper cabochon from IndonesiaHere is a finished cab of the Petrified Wood with Blue Opal and Native Copper. Thank you to Michael Beck for doing your usual fabulous job of cutting and polishing magnificent gemstones, and thank you to The Clamshell for sharing the photo.

Other Petrified Wood Gemstones

If you read my articles in LJJA, you know I am fascinated with the variety of beautiful petrified wood gemstones available. Channelwood, Petrified Red Oak, Fossil Sequoia, and so many other gorgeous petrified wood gemstone varieties are available to us now–some on a very limited basis. Every day it is getting harder to find gem-quality petrified wood cabs. By using these gemstones, these fragments of the ancient world in our work, we bring a bit of history and mystery into our 21st-century creations. I find that fascinating, and so do my customers. It makes our work very different, collectable, and cherished.

I’ll be in Tucson at the AGTA Show, booth 207, from January 30 to February 4. Please stop by! I love to meet our readers, new friends, and renew old friendships. See ya there!

Happy hunting,


Learn more about using gemstones in jewelry and how to set stones yourself!