Café au Lait from the Cretaceous

There are quite a few new goodies up on the website just in time for the holidays. One of our favorites is Martynia, a golden girl with a storied past. Her peanut wood pendant is nothing short of extraordinary.

Peanut wood is a type of petrified driftwood that comes from Western Australia. It began as a conifer tree during the Cretaceous era that was carried by a river to a shallow, inland, salty sea where a marine clam from that era enjoyed feasting on the mushy driftwood wood and would bore spiral holes deep inside. (Today’s species of related bivalves are called Shipworms because they have been the enemy of wooden ship hulls for millennia.) The mouth of the river where the tree was resting was also a favorite place for a type of plankton with a silica-rich shell. When the plankton died, their tiny shells would sink and form a white ooze that seeped into the holes created by the clams. Over time, this sediment dissolved even further into a super-saturated silica solution that would seep into the waterlogged wood and fossilize it. The fossilized wood is a dark coffee color and the plankton ooze in the clam boreholes is a delicious creamy white. When the fossils are cut into slabs, the boreholes appear oval- or peanut-shaped, hence the name peanut wood. In the picture to the left you can even see the spiral shape of some of the holes traversing the slab.

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The sedimentary layer containing the peanut wood eventually lithified into rocks known as the Windalia Radiolarite in Western Australia.  The Windalia was eventually uplifted as part of the elevated plateau known as the Kennedy Range and is now above sea level for lapidarists to find, cut, and polish.

Tastefully complemented by African yellow opal, smoky quartz, poppy jasper, and pyrite, the peanut wood pendant on Martynia gives this elegant necklace a rich history and just the right artistic touch.