Surrounded by Dutch royals and pretty forests sits the most precious gallery of The Netherlands. St1 Gallery sells precious stones in unequalled qualities, but also jaw-dropping fossils that once were stunning wood species.
Petrified wood, to be precise. Owner and gemologist Roy Masin grew up amid the world of minerals, and has a compelling story to share with almost every piece in the space.
What is petrified wood?
It’s the name for a special type of fossilized remains of terrestrial vegetation. Either a tree or tree-like plants have completely transitioned to stone by the process of permineralization. In other words, all organic materials are one-on-one replaced with minerals, mostly silicate such as quartz.
But it still looks like a tree trunk!
It does. But there is no organic material left here. What you see is a three-dimensional representation of the original organic material. Petrification is a unique process that can only occur under rare circumstances under the ground, where the original tree is completely cut off oxygen supply.
Like a volcanic eruption?
Yes that’s one scenario. When a tree trunk gets buried under volcanic ash or sediments, the natural process of aerobic decomposition is inhibited. Mineral-laden water flowing through the covering material deposits minerals in the plant’s cells. Organic matter needs to be completely petrified before it decomposes completely.
Other accelerators for petrification are a huge mudslide or the impact of a large meteorite, the results of which you see in Arizona.
Can it happen anywhere?
For now, the largest, most famous Petrified Forest is in Arizona (USA). We also found petrified wood in Indonesia, Madagascar, Brazil, Greece and Turkey. It’s a time-consuming process taking millions of years.
The colours are of a mind-blowing quality.
The various shades are caused by all sorts of very small natural impurities of the crystal lattice with metal oxides. Especially the petrified wood from Arizona has brilliant colours and is therefore called Rainbow Wood.
Amazing how stone can feel so alive.
I know. It’s not seldom people spontaneously start to cry here. Especially so when they take place in the Amethyst seat (points to a man-size cave-like natural sculpture situated at the entrance, its interior completely decked in the violet quartz). Do you like to hold a meteorite?
That’s so heavy!
It’s ninety-five percent iron. The irregular surface shows how part of it melted while entering the earth’s atmosphere.
This is the first time I hold something from outer space… The idea of its previous journey is completely overwhelming.
(laughs) Shall I show you the dinosaur?