One day early in the year, a good friend of mine texted me a strange photo of a lumpy, pipe-shaped stone. She had been on vacation with her family in Florida, building a sandcastle at the beach, when her son brought over some “castle embellishments” he had picked up on the beach. Suddenly, something sparkling caught my friend’s eye. One of the decorative rocks – a chalky-white, tube-like stone – had a coating of fine crystals in its hollow. But how far into the pipe it was growing, one could not see. She rescued it from the sandcastle, brought it home, and after a brief attempt to cut it open with a Dremel tool, asked if I could do something with it.
It turned out that her son had discovered a rare piece of 25+ million-year-old agatized fossil coral. Known as Tampa Bay Coral, it formed when silica from groundwater replaced ancient, buried corals, replacing its outer skeleton with agate and completely hollowing out the inner skeleton. Over millions of years, its empty inside became lined with a carpet of glittering, clear, quartz crystals known as drusy (also spelled druzy or druse). What was special about this specimen, was that it sported the common white drusy, but also a rare black drusy seldom seen in Tampa Bay coral. A true gemstone treasure fit for a pirate!
This brings to mind my Mauna Kea Ring – featuring a magnificent oval of greeny-blue, drusy chrysocolla. What I find cool is that while it looks an incredible aqua color, it is the hundreds of tiny, clear, drusy quartz crystals grown over the chrysocolla to create that specific sparkling hue and magical landscape.
But back to exploring the "booty"! With stone in hand, I turned to the foremost expert in drusy cutting I knew... to carefully carve into the “pipe”. While most of the rock was unusable “cement”, the good part could be cut into three shapes. The piece featuring the rare black material, I set in silver and hung from a leather cord – a gift for the son who found the fossil. The second and third pieces of white-grey drusy were made into two necklaces for my friend – who will pass them down to her girls. Talk about a memento of a family trip!
My Guide to Museums
My Guide to Museums When I travel, I always like to find some time to visit the local museums, galleries, and art exhibitions. For me, this is not ...Read More