Before we go into detail about Peanut Wood, let’s first explain a little about its origin.
Peanut Wood is in-fact a “Petrified Wood”. But what is a Petrified Wood? Rather than being a fossil, which is normally created as an impression or a compression of the original living creature or plant, a Petrified Wood is a three dimensional replacement of the original plant. Its name is derived from the Greek word “petro” which translates as “wood turned into stone”. And for once, here is a gemstone creation that is really easy to grasp. Petrified Wood is exactly that, a tree that has over a period of time turned into stone. The original living matter is normally replaced with a silicate such as Quartz.
Peanut Wood however, is not your normal Petrified Wood. Before it became petrified, it was swept into the ocean. The ocean washed and cleaned the wood and turned it into something that would resemble driftwood that you might see on a beach today. In the ocean this driftwood came under attack from shell fish known as Teredo (also known as Shipworm). Just like wood worms, they created little bore holes and tunnels into the wood. As the wood got heavier and heavier as the attacks increased, it was no longer able to float and sank to the sea bed. Here the bore holes became filled with a lightly-coloured sediment. Over a period of time, the wood became covered with more and more layers of mud and sediment and eventually the petrification process began.
Its name Peanut Wood was given to the gemstone as the lightly coloured boreholes resemble peanuts trapped in a delicious toffee. The gem is discovered in Western Australia near the town of Carnarvon.
The petrification process was believed to have occurred around 120 million years ago. The gem is normally of a Quartz composition making it very durable for setting in jewellery.