Amber (Fossilized Resin)
Approximates to C10H16O - Mixture of several resins, succinic acid, and volatile oils
Amber is a very light stone , a solidified, fossilized resin of now-extinct conifer trees. It's color is usually honey brown. Sometimes insects or pieces of earth or leaves are present in the amber. The fossils are mostly insects such as gnats, flies, wasps, bees and ants. Occasionally more exotic insects are trapped in the amber such as grasshoppers, preying mantises, beetles, moths, termites, butterflies, etc. Other non-insect animals are found in amber too such as spiders, centipedes, scorpions and even frogs and lizards.
Amber is the first and oldest geological specimen to be used in jewelry. Archeologists digging primitive sites near the Baltic sea have found evidence of Amber jewelry that is approximately 40,000 years old.
Amber and Copal are not minerals, they are organic compounds as they lack the necessary crystalline structure to be truly classified as a mineral. However, geological forces do play an important role in forming Copal and Amber. Some 360 million years ago, extinct pine trees oozed thick sticky resins. As these resins flowed, a variety of living and decomposing matter became trapped inside.
Unlike minerals that become included in molten magma flows, these inclusions did not influence the color of Amber. Although, they can influence the value of a specimen.
As this resin hardens, it first becomes Copal. For the Copal to become Amber it will have to fossilize under great pressures.
Entities that were trapped in the original flow, became perfectly preserved specimens of primal life on Earth. The theory behind the infamous Jurassic Park movies, is that DNA can be extracted from these fossils and used to clone dinosaurs.
Amber has some unique properties. An ethereal oil can be distilled from it, though a good size specimen may only yield minute amounts. When dissolved in oil of turpentine or linseed oil, it creates a premium varnish. Amber-lac or Amber-varnish is extremely hard and imparts a dark rich color to the wood.
Around 600 BC, a Greek named Thales discovered that by rubbing an Amber vigorously, it became electrically charged. The ancient name for Amber was Electron, which is the root word for today's electricity.
Most Copal and Amber specimens are going to be in the gold to lemon yellow color ranges. Rare occurrences of reds, blues, greens and blackish green have been found. The Dominican Republic is responsible for much of the red and blue Amber on the market.
The oldest Amber specimens come from areas around the Baltic Sea (as do specimens from Ozark Rock Exchange). It is not unusual for chunks to wash up on shore. Many of the primal forests & their resins were buried in clay beneath the younger sea. Violent storm swells break loose the Amber and it is brought ashore on the waves. Amber weighs the same as salt water, therefore it will float to the surface when freed. Burma, Sicily, Romania, and Poland are also historic sources of Amber.
It is great for large earrings as it weighs very little. Amber is used in all types of jewelry. Amber is usually ranges from yellow to orange. Some amber has been found with red, green, blue, violet, and black hues. Amber often has inclusions such as air bubbles, insects or pine needles from the way it is formed. More on...
Mineraloids Class: The members of this unofficial class are often mistaken for minerals and are sometimes classified as minerals, but lack the necessary crystalline structure to be truly classified as such.
Colors: Ranges from yellow to orange. Some amber has been found with red, green, blue, violet, and black hues. Amber often has inclusions such as air bubbles, insects or pine needles from the way it is formed.
Transparency: Transparent to translucent.
Crystal System does not apply because amber is
amorphous (meaning it does not have an ordered structure).
Habits include nodules embedded in shales or sandstones and those that are washed up on beaches.
Fracture is conchoidal.
Streak is white.
Other Characteristics: Can be burned, fluorescent under UV light and is much tougher (will not crumble as easily) than modern tree resins.
Notable Occurrences include all Baltic countries; Venezuela; Russia; Romania; Burma; in coal seams in Wyoming, USA and the Dominican Republic
Care and Treatment
As amber is soft, it can be easily scratched. Be certain to store amber jewelry separately from your other jewelry.
Amber has been imitated by plastic, glass, synthetic resin and other natural resins. It is often heated in oil to remove cloudiness.
Green amber is often heated-treated yellow amber.
Amber has a hardness rating of 2.5.
Specific Gravity 1.02 - 1.12 ; Generally 1.08
Amber is also used for healing of the physical body. It carries a negative electrical energy charge and therefore is good to draw power and energy into its bearer.
Memory loss; eccentric behavior; anxiety; inability to make decisions; thyroid, inner ear & neuro-tissue strengthener; activates altruistic nature; realization of the spiritual intellect.
Amber is not a birthstone.
Star Stone Months
Amber has long been associated with healing energy and mental stimulation, and is said to balance aggressive traits. Amber is traditionally paired with the planet Mercury.
Amber is said to help one be joyful and happy. It lightens the burdens of life.
Amber is said to enhance the beauty of the wearer. It is used to tap into the power of the Sun, and is good for success, abundance, healing, vitality and joy. A powerful stone for manifestation
Amber has been used for decoration since the stone age.
Amber with special markings such as the initials of ones name was thought to be a great protective talisman.