This is the latest amazing discovery from the new petrified logs we acquired a couple of years ago. We've found a new source for quality petrified wood specimens and have been off on a series of adventures working to secure some of these rarely seen petrified logs! I've made two trips to Myanmar and worked for a year at importing more stone than I could fly with and eventually succeeded! This specimen is among the finest that I've cut as I gain familiarity with this new-to-me petrified tropical forest! It's only the second log I've encountered that had a very high opal content. Almost all of the petrified wood in this region goes to the Chinese market. The stones are rarely cut for the Chinese, but rather the log is contour polished on the outside to produce a "viewing stone" where the luster of the highly opalized rind is highly coveted. Ironically, it is these opalized logs that look very much like some of the well preserved hardwoods found here in the Pacific Northwest in the Columbia basalts not far from my home, but these equally well preserved gemmy specimens come from halfway around the world in central Burma! I've included a microphoto of the intricately preserved wood growth structure to share what I'm seeing. In my reference books, the closest match to modern woods is Mansonia. I don't pretend to be a paleobotanist and my educated guess is only that. The fine tangential banding between the rays looks a bit more like my reference example of Obeche, but I still lean more to Mansonia as the closest relative (my reference for Mansonia isn't zoomed in as much but the written description says the same tangential banding exists in it as well). Many of the tropical hardwoods look something like this so it's difficult for me to say with certainty what species it is with my amateur identification skills. My expertise is in polishing however, and I have polished this nicely preserved fossil wood into a beautiful, perfectly prepared specimen with our signature lapidary work. It is entirely possible that this is all of the stone we'll ever be able to obtain from this location, so don't miss a chance at something truly unique and beautiful for your collection!
I'd known that Burma was rumored to have some particularly fine petrified wood, but Myanmar was under economic sanctions that prohibited trade with the US until late last year. Those sanctions were lifted once free elections were held and I was finally able to begin exploring another region for petrified logs. But change comes slowly and Myanmar is not a particularly advanced country so the process has been slow and involved (to say the least!). I managed to obtain two small logs on my first trip to this fascinating country and both produced amazing specimens. I was finally successful in trying to navigate the very complex trade requirements of Myanmar to purchase a larger shipment of these stones, and with that success, I am now able to offer a nice variety of choice specimens at an affordable price. I quite literally travel to the ends of the earth in search of finds like this to work with and share with other collectors, and this one was a particular adventure! A small taste of that story follows...
A couple of years ago on a trip to Asia I made a chance discovery that began a nearly year long odyssey to track down a new source for petrified wood. I met a fellow with a family connection in Myanmar. I had heard rumors for years about petrified logs in Burma, but the only ones I had ever seen were in a market in Shanghai. Those logs were prohibitively expensive, but absolutely fascinating and, best of all, highly agatized. One of the most difficult things to assess with a potential new source for logs is whether the material is agatized enough to produce good specimens. But I was a bit more optimistic in this case as I had high hopes that the nicely silicified logs I'd seen in China were in fact Burmese logs. Since then I've made two trips to Myanmar to examine the material and meet the people digging it. Most of what they dig is still exported to China as viewing stones, some of them towering much higher than me! These are typically not cut, but polished on one vertical face to follow the contours of the log which are then sold as tree jade (though the material is opal and agate and not jade at all). I visited the villages where these stones were being dug and worked by the local craftsmen. Aside from being thatched huts with open sides, these compounds look a lot like my place with rock piled up everywhere! But among the overgrown piles of stone (filled with giant blue scorpions no less!) were some choice full logs of what appeared to be very well preserved petrified wood. I eventually managed to secure two smaller logs that I could fly back with in my luggage to cut and polish and prove out the stone I was seeing. As exciting as it always is for me to work with a new source of petrified wood, I was very pleasantly surprised to find fine structure and very polishable specimens in these two logs, though each was preserved very differently and clearly from different sites.
While these adventures provide a certain degree of color in my own life, I ultimately do it for my own passion for these amazing stones and the ancient stories they tell. I have not been able to date any of these logs yet (but I will continue to work on it and share that info when I have it). It is my sincere hope that a rare and uncommon specimen for your own collection as the fruits of these early endeavors to find a new source will be something you can enjoy as well. Trust me, it sounds like a lot more fun than it is as it has taken my body a couple of solid weeks to recover from each trip to a country that has only recently begun to open itself up through a series of highly published political and economic changes that they are still struggling with.
This is an intriguingly shaped round taken from a well preserved petrified log that shows great structure under magnification. It's cut from the center of a nicely shaped log that reveals the original growth patterns of the tree in beautiful detail. This specimen has been carefully polished to show off all the gemmy detail inside. It's another one of those beautiful fossil treasures that some happy Sticks-in-Stones customer is going to flip over!
This round measures about 7 5/8" x 6 5/8" across the mirror polished face and is cut about 0.43" thick. Weight is 1.32 lbs.
A nice, unique naturally wonderful stone collectible exclusively from Sticks-in-Stones Lapidary.