Opalized wood bears some of the same beautiful qualities of opal and oftentimes offers berry-purple-like veins such as ones evident in earrings from Portland, Ore.–based Zaffiro. Husband-and-wife jewelers and granulation specialists Jack and Elizabeth Gualtieri set a pair of yummy-looking opalized wood pieces into signature 22k gold granulated settings with pink sapphires to accentuate the color highlights.
“We don’t find much opalized wood with the really strong purples, so we tend to hoard it when we do,” explains Elizabeth.
She included this shot in some preshow email marketing efforts, and the impact of the image lured a Texas buyer to her booth at Couture 2014 to buy the earrings. “The buyer came because he remembered the opals—they’re really dramatic,” she adds.
Opalized wood is different from Yowah Nut opal in several ways. First, it’s a petrified wood found worldwide in abundance, often from opal-bearing regions like Australia and Arizona. (Zaffiro’s material is from Australia.) Secondly, most Yowah stones have a “medium brown matrix that forms opal curlicues that tend to be blue and green,” notes Elizabeth. “We see a lot of opal, and some of the opalized wood patterns are not that dynamic. Every single one is different, and the more you see, the pickier you get about them.”
The couple does have a few more loose pieces of opalized wood, but they’re waiting for design inspiration to strike before making finished jewelry. “We’re waffling between earrings—the pieces might be too big for earrings—and making them into pendants,” Elizabeth says.
Confetti earrings in 22k gold with 18k gold French hooks, 16.3 cts. t.w. Australian opalized petrified wood and 0.64 ct. t.w. pink sapphires, $7,725; Zaffiro
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