A stone that once grew organically could be a description of just a few minerals, petrified wood is one of them, also known as fossil wood, agatised wood...
Although found in several locations around the world, USA, Europe, Japan, Australia our story is about petrified wood from Madagascar which is often prized as the source of the better colour examples with popular vivid reds and greens.
The story of Madagascan petrified wood starts in the time of the dinosaurs approximately 225 millions years ago, the Triassic period, when trees, in particular the conifer(Araucaria) were more abundant, our petrified wood tree however managed to get buried and coated with volcanic ash and instead of rotting away with the help of the oxygen in the air it began a long slow process, various compounds within sedimentary fluid replaced the organic material molecule by molecule, a process of petrifaction and of pseudomorphosis, taking the original form but becoming a silica rich rock instead. Best not to kick any kind of log just lying on the ground in these regions!
The different soluble minerals also influence the rock colour, copper, cobalt, chromium give shades of green, iron and manganese can produce pinks, reds, yellows, purple and shades of black. Generally, (although we’re biased) Madagascan petrified wood has better tones of red and green than Indonesian wood due to the abundance of related minerals and environmental conditions at the time. Not only is Indonesian petrified wood paler but it also feels less dense or lighter when held.
Petrified wood is often initially overlooked by the therapy based market until they realise that the multi-coloured natural stone what they’ve been staring at is indeed a fossil wood.
Large pieces are often prized in interior design and vast centre pieces, also a few artists actually carved the larger logs to produce amazing life like animals.
Our petrified wood originates from Ambilobe within the highland Diana region, initially the ‘wood’ was found lying on the surface, just appearing like fall logs from a distance, now though the logs can be found just below the surface and can range from mere branch fragments to 5-20+ tons in size, normally man handled onto trucks to be taken for cutting or exported as is. Don’t forget this area is remote and access roads are dirt tracks rather than roads as we know them!
We carefully select by size and colour from what is available. The cutter(s) ensure that the best pieces are selected to show the beauty of the mineral in whatever form possible, fragments pieces are hand polished as pebbles, spheres and shapes whilst complete logs and larger branches maybe sliced to show ranges of colour and the tree structure whilst retaining the original diameter of the whole log. All pieces must be worked in someway to allow exportation.
We have a permanent workshop in Madagascar so are employing local experts to professionally carve and polish stone throughout the year, each polished piece will have undergone several stages of cutting and grinding / polishing with various grades of special grit/powder to ensure the final surface is the best it can be.
The next stage is to pack everything up ready for shipment via container for the long journey to the UK by sea, not forgetting the vast amount of paperwork involved for the actual export and shipping process!
You can see some of our petrified wood and other Madagascan minerals on our website designerrocks.co.uk
From issue 70, to purchase print copy below: