Amber is nature’s time capsule. This fossilized tree resin contains remnants of life on earth millions of years ago.
Amber is an organic gem. Organic gems are the products of living or once-living organisms and biological processes. Amber formed tens of millions of years ago, when sap from ancient trees hardened and fossilized.Scientists and collectors treasure amber that contains suspended animal or plant fragments. These fossilized bits of once-living things were trapped in the hardening amber, creating a fascinating time capsule.Some types of amber are found in the ground. Other types have been freed and carried by tides, ending up on beaches or near-shore areas. The Baltic coast bordering Germany, Poland, and Russia is still an important source of amber.Amber is sometimes called “gold of the North.” Its warm luster is featured in beads, carvings, pendants, and cabochons, as well as decorative items like cups, bowls, snuff boxes, and umbrella handles.A related material, called copal, is also fossilized tree resin, but it’s far younger than amber, at less than a million years old.
BIRTHSTONES & ANNIVERSARIES
While amber isn’t a birthstone, it is associated with the astrological sign of Taurus.
WHY WE LOVE THIS GEMSTONE
INTERESTING INCLUSIONS: With inclusions like insects, lizards, leaves, flowers, and feathers, amber helps scientists study ancient ecosystems.
JURASSIC GEM: Although the movie Jurassic Park is fiction, scientists extracted DNA from insects enclosed in 120-million year old amber.
FRAGRANT: Amber smells good when you rub it. Although an oil made from burned amber was used in scents in ancient times, it isn’t used in perfume today.
ORGANIC, NOT MINERAL: Fossilized resin
COLOR: Yellow, orange, and brown
REFRACTIVE INDEX: 1.540
SPECIFIC GRAVITY: 1.08
MOHS HARDNESS: 2.0 to 2.5