Amber and some of its properties.
Amber is the fossilized resin of trees. Most of this gemstone is golden to golden orange, but green, red, violet and black Amber has been found.
Transparent or translucent, it usually occurs as modules or small, irregularly shaped masses, often with a cracked and weathered surface.
Amber may contain insects (and more rarely frogs, toads and lizards), moss, lichen or pine needles that were trapped millions of years ago while the resin was still sticky. Geologists have identified over 1000 different species of extinct insects purely by studying the gemstone. It really is a unique gem, providing a visual snapshot of what life was like around 50 million years ago.
Air bubbles may give Amber a cloudy appearance, but heating in oil will clear this. When rubbed, it produces a negative electrical charge that attracts dust. In fact the word electricity originates from the Greek word for Amber, “electron”. Many people believe that it brings good luck and also aids well being. In years gone by its ability to create static was believed by many to be a magical power.
Because this gem floats on salt water, if you take a stroll along some beaches there is a small chance that you may discover your own piece of this precious stone washed up on the shore. Interestingly until the mid 19th century this was how most Amber was found. It was appropriately named “Seastone”.
Although it is mostly found in small modules, although pieces over 22 lb (10 kg) have been discovered. It is sensitive to acids, caustic solutions and gasoline as well as alcohol and some perfumes. It can be ignited by a match, then it smells like incense.
The largest deposit in the world is west of Kaliningrad, Russia. Under 100 ft (30 m) of sand is a 30 ft (9 m ) layer of amber-containing clay, the so-called “blue earth”. It is surface-mined with dredging chain buckets. First the Amber is washed out, then picked by hand. Only 15 percent is suitable for jewellery, The remainder is used for “pressed amber” or used for technical purposes.
There are large reserves on the seabed of the Baltic. After heavy storms, it is found on the beaches and in shallow waters of bordering countries, including England, Norway and Denmark. This variety is especially solid and used to be regularly fished for by the local fishermen.
This gemstone has been used since prehistoric times for jewellery and religious objects, also as amulets and mascots. The Baltic Amber is among the earliest-used gem materials. Today it is used for ornamental objects, ring stones, pendants, brooches, necklaces and bracelets.
Amber requires great care. It is extremely heat-sensitive ( it has been burned as incense for centuries) and must be protected from heat sources, including hot water and even strong sunlight, which can cause it to dehydrate. Because it is soft it should be protected from bumps and scratching. Always store this gemstones in a separate part of your jewellery box. It should be cleaned with WARM water (not hot) and a soft cloth.
Recent years have seen a rise in the status of natural amber and it has regained some importance as a gemstone. This has been reflected by the continuing rise in the price of this gem.
Over the years it has had a number of medicinal uses attributed to it, but today is used almost exclusively for jewellery. However it is often used for carving various ornaments.
It does not have it’s own Birthstone attribute but it is sometimes used as the 5th wedding anniversary gem, replacing a gift of wood. It is however the birthstone for the female name of Anne and the male name of Ambrose.
If you dream of Amber then this signifies you might be in for a voyage.
Below are some examples of the fossils that have been found in pieces of Amber.
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