Amber

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Introduction
  • Amber is the ancient and fossilized resin of long dead trees that grew in forests millions and millions of years ago. Over the eons, chemical and physical changes occurred, fossilizing the resin to produce the Amber we know today.
  • Although a fossilized plant resin that generally consists of organic carbon, hydrogen and oxygen structures, the compositions vary depending on the type of parental plant species.
  • Research indicates that Amber ranges from about 2 million to 360 million years in age, although most gem quality Amber ranges from 5 million to 50 million years.
  • Amber is a unique gem. On top of its beauty, Amber bequeaths man valuable scientific data through its ability to act as a window on the past. Its unique ability to preserve the organic tissues of prehistoric life forms is highly valued by both gem collectors and scientists alike.




Legends & Lore
  • In classical times, Amber was used medicinally and was also believed to offer a magical light for the deceased as they progressed through the underworld.
  • Powers attributed to Amber include love, strength, luck, healing, and protection, calming for hyperactivity and stressed nerves, finds humor and joy. Legend says that Amber was believed to provide magicians and sorcerers with special powers.
  • When you rub Amber, static electricity is generated. In fact, the word electricity is derived from the ancient Greek word for Amber, "Elektron" or "Sun Made".


Just The Facts
  • The organic inclusions commonly found in Amber include plant debris, small animals and a variety of pre-historic insects. These ancient creatures are predominantly extinct ancestors of today's cockroaches, ants, termites, caddis flies, centipedes, crickets, scorpions and millipedes. Some larger organisms such as snakes have also been recorded. These preserved life forms were trapped by fresh sticky resin that oozed from coniferous trees millions of years ago. Entombed and preserved in the Amber, the insects are visible in almost perfect condition, showing the position they were in when they were entombed millions of years ago.
  • The most valued variety of Amber for manufacturing jewellery and decorative objects is Baltic Amber. Occurring in yellow, golden and brown colours, Baltic Amber is also known as Succinite after its parent tree Pinus Succinfera that was common in the tertiary period, some 50 million years ago. At present, the primary source of Baltic Amber is the various deposits around the Russian port of Kaliningrad, the old German enclave of Koenigsberg. Incredibly light, Amber is occasionally buoyant in salt water and is sometimes transported long distances by the sea, having been found as far away as the beaches of England and Scotland. It's from this ability it gains one of its common names, "Seastone".
  • Important secondary sources include the Dominican Republic and Mexico. Showing transparent golden yellow colours, Caribbean Amber often has numerous inclusions and exhibits strong fluorescence. Lesser known Amber varieties include the Burmese-origin deep cherry-red to dark brown variety known as Burmite; Rumanite from Romania - which is mostly a clear pale yellow colour and often suffers from internal crazing due to underground pressure. Italian and Sicilian Amber, known as Simetite, comes in a fairly wide range of colours and can also exhibit strong fluorescence.
  • Since the Jurassic Park movies, interest in insect and animal included Amber has exploded, making it highly collectable. In regards to the film Jurassic Park, the alleged source of the Dinosaur DNA was Dominican Amber. However Dominican Amber is thought to be about 25 million years too young to truly contain Dinosaur DNA, making the plot slightly inaccurate. However, other Amber sources from around the world could potentially contain the genetic material of these avian ancestors.
  • A window on a forgotten world - this Jurassic Tom & Jerry have been playing cat and mouse for millions and millions of years.
  • In 1994 a molecular biologist from California reported that he had extracted DNA from an insect sealed in Amber 120 to 130 million years ago. Dr. Raul Canu claimed the insect was trapped when dinosaurs ruled the earth; leading people to speculate that Michael Crichton's novel could one day become a scientific reality.
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