The gemstone amber is actually not a stone at all – it is formed from fossilized tree resin that has hardened over millions of years into the beautiful gem we prize today. It is found in a variety of colours, most commonly in the yellow, orange, and brown palettes. However, over 256 shades have currently been identified – including a very rare blue. The most valuable amber gemstones of all are completely transparent. Since it is an organic material, each piece of amber jewellery is as unique and special as its wearer.
Amber’s beauty has been recognized since ancient times, with ornaments as old as 13,000 years turning up in excavations across Europe. Greek and Roman women sought this gem as symbol of wealth and youth, and warriors wore amber into battle for luck. The ancient Chinese even burned it to create an intoxicating piney scent thought to be medicinal. In more recent times, amber was a common gem used in art deco jewellery. Today, it is sometime mentioned as one of the twelve birthstones, sharing November with the topaz.
Amber has long been thought to contain healing properties. It is most often noted as curing depression, with the power to transform a wearer’s negative energy into positive energy. Wearing the stone is also thought to purify the mind and body.
Finding Fossils in Amber Gemstones
Because amber is an organic substance created from fossilized tree sap, specimens are occasionally observed with preserved insects trapped inside. In rarer cases, pieces will be recovered with tiny animal and plant fossils hardened within the gemstone. These specimens are often quite beautiful and displayed in prized collection in museums and showrooms around the world.
Where Does the Gemstone Amber Come From?
The most common source of amber is the Baltic Sea. Baltic Amber, as it is known, has washed up on the shores of Poland, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, and Russia since ancient times. It is currently mined, mostly in Poland. But the gemstone can be discovered all over the world, with rich deposits present in countries including:
- Dominican Republic: This is the most prolific source outside the Baltic region. All Dominican amber turns blue or green when exposed to UV light.
- Myanmar: Most amber produced by Myanmar is imported to China.
- Lebanon: Lebanese samples frequently contain ancient trapped insects, as well as fossilized animals and plants.
- Romania: A common source of “black amber,” which is actually more of a deep red or brown colour.
Caring for Amber Jewellery
Amber is a beautiful gem that looks great on any wearer, and is featured in all jewellery styles, designer jewellery, even engagement rings! But since this gemstone is actually a rather soft and delicate compound, there are some important precautions you should take to protect your beautiful jewellery.
- Make sure not to store amber where it can rub against metal or anything that could scratch or damaged the polished surface. A soft pouch is a great way to store and protect your gemstones.
- Amber should be kept away from perfume, hair spray, or any commercial jewellery cleaning product. The harsh chemicals may cause deterioration of the gem. Extreme heat and hot water should also be avoided.
- Instead, amber should be cleaned with a soft cloth dipped in water. To polish your jewellery, you can rub a little clear olive oil into the surface, then rub dry with a soft cloth.
Amber gemstones make great gifts that are sure to please any wearer. The deep orange colour and unique soft appearance make for striking and beautiful ornaments. And because no piece of amber is the same, you know you’ll be buying a gemstone that is truly unique!