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Petrified wood may be one of the most unique minerals on the planet, but does it have any value out of niche collector circles? Because some petrified wood can be found for cheap, collectors may question whether it’s worth collecting at all, at least from a monetary perspective.
Petrified wood does have value to both collectors and jewelry makers, and it is priced between $0.25 and $10.00 a pound depending on its quality and size. This means that petrified wood can be a valuable investment as well as an aesthetically pleasing addition to any rockhound’s collection.
Whether you are wanting to build your collection by adding petrified wood or you are deciding whether or not to sell some petrified wood you already have, it’s important to know the factors that affect the value of petrified wood. Read on to learn more about petrified wood and how it’s graded for value.
If you are interested in checking out the best books about rocks and minerals identification you can find them by clicking here (Amazon link).
Petrified Wood Varies in Value
The first thing to know when it comes to pricing petrified wood is that petrified wood varies greatly in value. Petrified wood can be found at prices ranging from $0.25 to $10.00 a pound, depending on a variety of factors that affect worth and quality.
Petrified wood can also range in value depending on where it is acquired. Small pieces of petrified wood can be found quite cheap in tourist traps near the Petrified Forest in Arizona, for instance, but many of these are not exhibition-grade pieces of petrified wood.
On the other hand, if you attend a rockhound convention, you may come across higher-quality petrified wood at a discount due to bulk acquisition by the vendors present.
Much of the value of petrified wood is also subjective. While more colorful or sparkly specimens are more likely to attract a higher asking price, they can often go for higher than their actual worth depending on the quality of the presentation by the vendor and the preferences of the buyer.
Overall, petrified wood is not as valuable as many other precious gemstones, so it’s not the first material rockhounds look at for an investment mineral.
But because of its unique qualities and its one-of-a-kind appearance, a piece of petrified wood (or a dozen) can be an excellent addition to any collector’s collection.
Factors that Determine the Worth of Petrified Wood
Many different factors determine the worth of petrified wood. Here are a few of the major categories that are used to grade petrified wood:
Larger pieces of petrified wood are more valuable than smaller pieces, mostly because the unique traits of the piece of petrified wood (such as stripes or other markings) are easier to observe in larger pieces.
A particularly valuable size of petrified wood is a disc of petrified wood cut from an intact tree trunk—these pieces can weigh hundreds of pounds and be sold for thousands of dollars.
One of the rare qualities of petrified wood is that each piece differs in coloration based on the types of minerals that formed during the wood’s mineralization process as well as different colorations in the tree itself.
This can lead to pieces of petrified wood that vary drastically from one another in coloration and visual appearance.
Some pieces of petrified wood form with incorporated gemstones such as crystals or opals.
These precious stones greatly enhance the visual appeal of the petrified wood by giving it sparkle and causing it to change coloration under the light.
Pieces of petrified wood that are put into exhibition settings or polished to a warm glowing sheen to show off the different patterns and colorations in the specimen better are usually priced higher than pieces of petrified wood that are sold raw.
Some pieces of petrified wood for sale may have cosmetic flaws, such as scuffs, scratches, chips, cracks, or breaks.
These defects can significantly decrease the value of a specimen that’s for sale, though many still have some worth as collector’s pieces regardless.
Petrified wood is often incorporated into crafts such as furniture, coasters, trays, or jewelry. Since petrified wood can be a difficult material to work with, items made out of petrified wood can be more valuable than the raw form of the mineral.
Pieces of petrified wood can be quite different in their makeup and whether they are suitable for use in more advanced crafts, so their value can go up and down depending on these factors.
Ultimately, much of the value of a piece of petrified wood is in the eye of the beholder. Since many of these pieces are sold at auction, they often go to the highest bidder.
Most of the petrified wood that is sold at souvenir shops or metaphysical stores is a low-quality stone that is bought in bulk.
Specimens that are bought at private auctions online or at rock and gem shows can be much higher quality, but their prices are higher as well.
Getting a good specimen for a good price can be difficult to pull off, but it helps to keep an eye on the rock and gem markets in case anything interesting pops up.
TIP: What are the signs that rock is valuable? Find out the crucial signs of valuable rocks in the article below:
6 Signs That a Rock Is Valuable + Examples & Location Tips
Types of Petrified Wood
There are many different kinds of petrified wood since there are many kinds of trees that have gone on to create petrified wood through mineralization. In the Petrified Forest alone in Arizona, park rangers have identified over a dozen different types of petrified trees.
All petrified woods share one thing in common – their original organic matter decays to leave an area for minerals to form a fossil impression of the tree with some of the following compounds:
Silica: Silica and silicates such as quartz can give petrified wood a sparkling and gem-like appearance. Some sections of silica can also cause the petrified wood to appear translucent in places where it is prevalent.
Pyrite or fool’s good is a mineral that is often found in petrified wood and can give the wood a golden gleam or yellowish coloration.
Petrified wood that has been converted to pyrite can be prone to pyrite rot, where the pyrite degrades due to environmental conditions. For this reason, petrified wood containing pyrite should always be carefully stored away from moisture.
Calcite lends petrified wood a tawny color and can often form long crystals in hollow interior pieces of petrified wood, leading to geode-like formations.
Calcite is the prime compound in both limestone and marble, which can lead petrified wood with large calcite deposits to take on a marbled, veined appearance.
Irridescent opal is one of the most prized minerals found in petrified wood since it is a gemstone and can lend petrified wood a rainbow of colors ranging from mint green and bright indigo blues to fluorescent orange.
The color of opal changes depending on how the light hits it, making it a beautiful addition to any piece of petrified wood. Petrified wood containing opal is one of the most expensive types available.
Chalcedony is a form of silica that is cryptocrystalline, which means that the crystalline structure of the mineral is only visible at the microscopic level.
In petrified wood, chalcedony often takes on a milky or light bluish appearance and gives the petrified wood an opaque coloration.
Jet is a specialized form of petrified wood that is actually a mineraloid, rather than a true mineral. Like diamonds, jet is formed by hundreds of years of high pressure, causing it to become a form of coal.
When polished, jet has a sparkling black appearance and is prized for its appearance in jewelry and other crafts.
As you can see, there are many different kinds of petrified wood and many kinds of minerals and mineraloids that make up a specimen. This is another reason why the value of petrified wood varies so wildly from piece to piece.
TIP: It’s good to know the difference between rocks, minerals, and crystals. It helps you when you rockhounding. Read this article and never get wrong again:
Rock, Mineral, or Crystal? What’s the Difference?
Identifying Petrified Wood
Along with identifying the types of minerals present in a piece of petrified wood to determine its value, there are also ways to determine what type of wood the petrified wood was created from. This can also impact its value, as some types of petrified wood are much rarer than others.
The plant specimens that petrified wood originate from are usually determined through three major factors:
The color of the petrified wood can help geologists determine what type of wood it came from, though color can be greatly impacted by the type of minerals that petrified the wood.
The type of color desired in a piece of petrified wood is largely subjective and determined by the preferences of the buyer.
Rays and rings:
Different types of petrified wood form different types of rays or markings within the wood radiating from the center of the tree that can be used to determine both plant type and the age of the tree if rings are indicated.
The size and shape of mineralized cell structures within the piece of petrified wood can often lend many clues as to the type of wood it originally was.
Many types of woods have distinctive cell structure shapes that can be used to differentiate them from one another.
Older pieces of petrified wood are often more valuable than newer pieces, and this value is determined by carbon-dating the wood.
By carbon dating, scientists can determine the approximate age of a carbon-based fossil. Prices for carbon-dating services can run from a little over a hundred dollars to five hundred dollars.
Learning how to identify worth-impacting factors in a specimen of petrified wood, such as species or distinct coloration, can be a step forward in learning how to accurately price petrified wood in a range where you can sell it at a profit.
BTW: Do you want to know more about rock and mineral identification? The books listed below are the best ones you can find on the internet (Amazon links):
- Smithsonian Handbooks: Rocks & Minerals
- Gemstone & Crystal Properties (Quick Study Home)
- Ultimate Explorer Field Guide: Rocks and Minerals (National Geographic Kids)
TIP: Do you know where to find petrified wood near you? And what locations in the United States are the best? Check out the complete guide in the article below:
6 Best Location for Finding Petrified Wood Near Me (USA)
Ways to Sell Petrified Wood
If you want to recoup some of the value of your petrified wood by selling it, there are several ways you can go about the process. Here are a few of them:
- Online auctions
Generalized marketplaces such as eBay as well as more specialized markets that cater specifically to rock and gem enthusiasts online can both be good places to find quality petrified wood.
- Rockhound community events
Rock and gem shows are a great place to both buy and sell unique mineral specimens, and you’re more likely to get your full value for the piece versus trying to sell it in a more generalized market online.
- Local appraisal
Since petrified wood is often treated as a type of gemstone when it comes to appraisal, you can get a local appraiser to value and sell your petrified wood if you’re not comfortable trying to sell it yourself.
All of the places you can sell petrified wood are also places where you can acquire high-quality pieces at a good price. However, there are often vendor fees and other costs that might affect your overall profit when selling your petrified wood through these venues, so ask ahead.
TIP: Rockhounding is indeed a fantastic use of time and a quite addicting hobby, but you’re here to see if it also can be a source of income.
Ultimate Guide: Making Money by Selling Rocks & Minerals
How to Increase the Value of Petrified Wood
If you’ve already got petrified wood and you want to increase the value that you can get for it should you decide to sell it, here are some of the things you can do to your petrified wood to make it more valuable:
- Polish it
Many smaller pieces of petrified wood can be increased in value by polishing them in a rock tumbler or similar device.
This causes the raw petrified wood to take on a lustrous shine and allows the markings of the petrified wood, such as its rays, to be more visible.
- Clean it
Making sure that petrified wood is thoroughly cleaned and presentable is a simple way to increase its visible value. Note that petrified would never be cleaned with any kind of chemical cleaning solution, which can damage or erode the surface of the wood.
Instead, petrified wood can be cleaned with a soft cloth that has been dampened with warm distilled water to keep it dust-free and in top shape.
- Set or mount it
A piece of petrified wood that is mounted on a custom stand or in a shadowbox can command a higher price than one that is being sold as a loose specimen.
Putting a piece of petrified wood in an aesthetically pleasing setting can also help it to sell faster. Organizing specimens in an eye-catching way in a vendor’s stall can also increase their visible worth by drawing the eye of potential buyers.
- Carve it
Whenever petrified wood is worked into a piece of jewelry, furniture, or other artisan craft, it can usually go for a higher price than a raw specimen would.
Petrified wood is a difficult material to work with, so it can’t be treated like wood or stone when crafting with it. As a result, artisan pieces created from petrified wood can be costly.
- Break it up
While smaller pieces of petrified wood are generally less valuable than larger ones, it can be harder to find a buyer for a larger piece of petrified wood.
Breaking up a large piece of petrified wood into smaller specimens can be a way to get a piece of petrified wood sold rather than sitting on it for years, waiting for a rare collector to pay thousands for it.
TIP: Cutting and polishing petrified wood by hand using only wet-dry sandpaper is likely to be too tiring and time-consuming. Check out the complete guide on how to cut and polish petrified wood:
How To Cut & Polish Petrified Wood: Follow These 3 Steps
- Appraise and date it
Having a piece of petrified wood professionally appraised can significantly increase its value, especially if it can be dated to a rare period.
However, an appraisal is usually not free, and the cost of the appraisal can take from your profits when selling the petrified wood.
- Improve its presentation
Making sure that the petrified wood is presented in a way that shows its best qualities is an important factor in getting your money’s worth when it comes time to sell it.
In digital markets, this means good photos of the specimen and compelling item descriptions. In physical markets, it means having an orderly stall with state-of-the-art sales processing, or other sales amenities such as Square payments or free shipping.
The fact that there are so many ways that petrified wood can be enhanced to increase its value explains how there can be such a wide range of prices asked for it.
Collectors also collect petrified wood for a variety of different reasons. A geologist who is interested in the period a piece of wood originated in may have a much different petrified wood “wish list” than a crystal collector who is purchasing petrified wood geodes only.
Petrified Wood is Valuable to the Right Buyer
Petrified wood is valuable, but its value is limited by the fact that it is generally less desirable than other semiprecious stones, and it takes some polishing and setting work to create a piece of petrified wood that is as precious as a jewel.
Making sure that you get your money’s worth when either buying or selling petrified wood comes down to knowing your wood and what you are looking for.
TIP: Stay safe while you looking for some valuable petrified wood. Read this article about safety tips for rockhounding and enjoy your hobby with no limits:
PRO Tips for Beginner & Experienced Rockhounds + Safety Tips