Friday, June 24, 2011

Rock Review: Dendritic Opal

In today’s rock review will take a look at an “international gem of mystery”, the Dendritic Opal. It is found across the globe, and colors range in many neutral tones, from tans to grays often mottled with white. Part of what makes Dendritic Opal so beautiful is its dark branching formations called dendrites. They appear to be similar to moss or roots giving it a unique look that many people think is reminiscent of a fossil! However, the dendrite branches actually come from the mineral Manganese rather than fossilized plant life.
Luckily for Opal lovers, it is easy to maintain the gem at home since it can be cleaned with a simple dish soap and warm water solution then thoroughly dried with a soft cloth. Many people have long enjoyed Dendritic Opal for its metaphysical properties of promoting spiritual growth. It also is a popular gem with healers, aiding in treatment of blood, breathing and skin disorders. The famous Carl Faberge (think Feberge Egg) was a fan of Dendritic Opal and used it in a number of his pieces, some of which were supplied to the Russian imperial court. Many gem lovers in the 21st century are still enjoying Dendritic Opal for its unique marriage of rocky and organic looks.
Some confusion surrounds the stone’s identity and make up due to some aliases sometimes given to doppelgangers of this gem. For instance Dendritic Opal is often referred to as Merlinite which is actually a Chalcedony. Merlinite was dubbed an “Opal” because of its opalescence, but is not in fact an Opal. Agates with dendritic features are also sometimes labeled Dendritic Opal, but also are not authentic Opals. A true Dendritic Opal IS a common Opal, meaning it has no play of color, that also has the presence of dendrite formations.
Check out this lovely piece from Layne Designs in Dendritic Opal!

Dendritic Opal Ring from Layne Designs

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