Amber gemstone is one of the oldest gems known to man. It is the fossilized, hardened resin of trees, mostly found in conifers. Some amber specimens date back as far as 100 million years, thus allowing scientists to study extinct species in great detail.
Ambragialla is an old 16th-century Italian word for the gem Amber. Another term for Amber gem is - Succinite. This gem not only delights the eye but uplifts the spirits and some believe it even offers protection to those who wearer.
Amber's prehistoric origins have caused it to be the source of fascination and intense study. Gemstone meanings and healing lore say that Amber is physically protective and may protect the wearer of amber from electromagnetic radiation (especially x-rays), the sun rays, and even computer radiation. In fact it's qualities are so special that some Asian people together with American Indians, consider Amber to be a sacred healing stone!
In Old Norse mythology, the magical Brisingamen Necklace, was made of Amber and glittered like a constellation in the sky around the goddess, Freyja's neck. The famous Brisingamen necklace made of amber is emblematic of the fruits of the earth.
Amber was a popular choice for Victorian Jewelry in the 1890s.
Over 90% of the world's Amber is found in Russia on the Baltic Sea. More than 50 million years there were trees, taller than the redwoods of today, that grew along the shores of the Baltic Sea. As a result of glaciers, the trees were swept into the sea and there they solidified under ice and pressure. And it's in this resin from these trees where the amber is found. Amber is also found washed up on the seashore, because its relative density is such that it floats on salt water.
Ambragialla may include inclusions of insects, petals of flowers, seeds, and bark that have been locked inside for thousands and even millions of years. Included material increases the value of Amber. Intact frogs, lizards, snake skins, bird feathers, the hair and bones of mammals, various plant materials and insects have all been better preserved than any royal tomb thanks to Amber. Genetic scientists are interested in this stone for the possibility of DNA sampling.
There have been ancient specimens of fossilized amber, in which DNA has been extracted from the fossilized organisms and then compared with that of its modern-day counterparts!
Amber is not a mineral but an organic stone and until the mid 19th century, most amber, was also known as "seastone" and was picked up along the seashore. From the mid 19th century, dredging operations began along the shores of the Baltic, and mining, often open-pit, started in the late 19th century.
There is no such thing as sustainable Gold mining or sustainable amber mining. Mining, through which jewellers obtain the bulk of their raw materials, is totally unsustainable. We are expected to reach peak gold around the year 2020.
Once a gemstone or mineral has been removed from the earth, it can't return, at the very least for the next couple of billion years or so. They can talk all they like about "sustainable mining methods" that protect the environment, and we've all heard about sustainable economic opportunities, created by clever marketing, but when it comes to natural gems and minerals we cannot truthfully talk about a sustainable product expect of course - Antique Jewelry!
Over the past century more than 100 million tons of waste have been discharged into the Baltic Sea from the Palmnicken (Yantarny) mine. The insoluble toxic waste product causes high turbidity appearing as thick, cloudy matter covering the surface of the Baltic Sea which threatens the survival of precious amber gem.
What determines the color of Amber? it all depends on the depth of the water into which the tree, the source of Amber originally fell, possibly millions of years ago. Normally it is a golden yellow or light-yellow to honey color but can be all shades in between including brown and red-brown hues, the latter of which are known as CHERRY Ambers. The more interesting pieces of Amber contain a mixture of shades. Amber gemstone can be translucent, opaque or a mix of both.
The strange paradox of Amber lies in it's weight though. Genuine amber often looks heavier than it really is. When you hold genuine amber in your hand, you will be surprised how light it feels - a large, chunky amber necklace can be worn with ease and comfort. That's one of Amber gemstone's special qualities. Amber floats of salt water.
There's an abundant supply of counterfeit amber in the market-place today despite the fact that it is quite easy to spot an imposter. Time-saving tips on how to identify Genuine Amber can be sourced Here...
Imitation Amber also including inclusions have been produced for at least 600 years. There is nothing under the sun;-) Fresh resins, synthetic polystyrenes, bakelite, epoxy resins, celluloid, colored glass, plastics and polyesters have all been used to make imitation Amber.
Identify genuine Amber gemstone from faux:
Purchase your Amber jewelry from a trusted source. A good book on Amber will increase your knowledge of this golden oldie and add to the pleasure you experience when wearing and investing in Amber Gemstone.
Reference: Cotterell, A., 1996, Classical Mythology, Lorenz Books, London.
Image: of Amber & Pearl Necklace Courtesy of Christie's
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