If you’re still looking for a gift for that special someone this Thursday, and you happen to have several thousand dollars just burning a hole in your bank account, you might want to look at these ridiculously pretty jewels designed by Monique Péan. The ring above, and the necklace below were crafted from fragments of a fossilized dinosaur bone.
Turning paleontology specimens into art can be controversial. Even selling intact fossils can raise a host of legal issues–as we saw last year with the controversial sale of a T-Rex fossil. Péan has said that the dinosaur bone she uses is sourced from two paleontologists working in Colorado, who give her the brightly colored bones when they find small fragments deemed unworthy of museums.
Dinosaur bones don’t all have the colors and patterns that Péan prizes. These pieces are unique because during fossilization they were agatized.
Agatized is a great word, isn’t it? It’s a specific form of mineralization, which I should probably explain as well, but lets start with the idea of a fossil. The word ‘fossil’ encompasses pretty much anything that is really old and preserved. You can find fossilized rain prints on ancient riverbanks, where rain pelting into the mud left tiny spots. Animals fossilized in amber (a la Jurrassic Park) or tar pits have had their soft parts preserved. But when we think of fossils, we generally think of bones.
Bones tend to be easier to preserve than skin or scales, but they are still relatively soft and porous when compared to rock. Often, bones that are excavated have undergone some sort of transformation during their millions of years resting under the earth. One of the most common transformations is mineralization or permineralization, where minerals seep into bones or a cavity, and occupy the space. If there is some of the original bone or structure left, the process is referred to as permineralization, but if the hard parts have been replaced by a mineral, it’s called mineralization.
So the dino bones that Péan is working with have undergone some form of mineralization, and in this case, the mineral infiltrator was agate, a beautiful form of quartz. Hence, the bones were agatized.
Fun Fact: Agatized Coral is the state mineral of Florida. Who Knew?