The Gemstone Amber
Amber is an organic gemstone, forming from the hardened resin of ancient pine trees. The hardening process of Amber is known as polymerization, which fossilizes the resin over many centuries and makes it hard and sturdy. Amber
is formed from viscous, sticky resin, and therefore commonly contains
inclusions that got stuck in the Amber and remained there when it
hardened. These inclusions are usually of insects or plants, with the most well-known being mosquitoes. Amber with well-preserved organisms frozen internally are highly prized.
Blue, Red, Green, Yellow, Orange, Brown
2 - 2.5
Amber is composed of complex organic material without any definitive chemical formula. Its inherent substance can also vary depending on its origination.
1.539 - 1.545
Transparent to nearly opaque
1.0 - 1.1
Amber is an ancient gemstone, and has been valued since early times. The most common color of Amber is the yellow-orange color known as amber
. The color is very distinctive, and is named after the gemstone. Amber can also be a deeper orange-red color or a lighter yellow color. A blue-colored Amber known as Blue Amber
is found in the Dominican Republic. This rare type of Amber has a unique blue tinge to it caused by fluorescence
, and when observed directly through strong light it will have a more typical orange-yellow color.
Amber has a very low specific gravity, and is one of the lightest of gemstones. Although it will not float in water, it may float in saltwater which has a higher density. Baltic Amber
is sometimes found with sand on the beach, having been washed ashore from the seabed, especially after storms.
Amber can be completely transparent, though most forms are cloudy and translucent. The cloudiness is usually caused by trapped air bubbles, which are very small and dense, but can cloud up the entire Amber. Amber with clearer transparency is more
valuable than cloudy specimens. In general, Dominican Amber
is usually more transparent than other Amber, and also frequently contains insect inclusion
s. Dominican Amber is also strongly fluorescent
, both in longwave
Amber is very soft for a gemstone, and is not very durable. Aside from its
tendency to easily scratch, it is adversely affected by chemicals and
solutions, and should be kept away from alcohol, perfume, gasoline, acids, or any solvent
s. Amber will also burn if exposed to fire, and can crack
under too much heat or pressure.
Amber is used in jewelry as cabochon
s and beads, and is used mostly for bracelets, necklaces, and earrings. Oval shapes and teardrops are also frequently cut from Amber. It is not commonly faceted into gemstone cuts. Ornamental carvings are occasionally also cut from larger Amber pieces.
Synonym of Pressed Amber
Amber from the vicinity of the Baltic Sea, mainly near the coastline
of Latvia, Lithuania, Russia (in Kaliningrad Oblast - an isolated Russian
Province in the Baltics), and northern Poland. The world's largest Amber reserves
exist in this area, and some of the material washes up directly from
the Baltic Sea onto the shore.
Rare form of Amber from the Dominican Republic (Dominican
Amber) with a characteristic blue and yellow color that changes to all
yellow when viewed directly into light.
Cloudy, translucent Amber containing dense inclusions of bubbles throughout its interior.
Amber originating from Burma (Myanmar).
Hardened resin that has partially gone through the
polymerization process to harden it, but is not fully polymerized like
Amber from the Dominican Republic.
Larger pieces of Amber created by compressing resin pieces or small Amber
fragments into a single mass at high temperatures.
Amber from the island of Sicily, Italy.
Treatments & Enhancements
Amber is generally natural, and not usually treated. However, some Amber gemstones are formed from fusing smaller Amber pieces together by heating and oiling them together. These stones are sometimes called Amberoid
or Pressed Amber
. The luster of some Amber pieces is sometimes enhanced with an oil bath or synthetic lubricant.
The world's largest Amber deposits are near the Baltic Sea in Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia, in the historical East Prussia. The nearby Baltic countries of Latvia and Lithuania are also important producers of Amber. Northern Poland, around the area of Gdansk, also along the Baltic Sea, is another important producer of Amber. Some of the Baltic Amber
is extracted directly from the Baltic Sea, either washing up on shore or picked up from the ocean bed.
The Dominican Republic is another significant source of Amber. The enigmatic Blue Amber
variety is mined in Santiago Province. Other sources of Amber are Germany, Italy (Sicily), Burma (Myanmar), Mexico, Canada, and the U.S. (Arkansas and New Jersey).
Amber can appear similar to Citrine, Topaz, Fluorite, Golden Beryl,
, though it is much softer than all these gemstones.
Amber in the Rough Photos