Amber Properties and Qualities
Amber is a wondrous and time honored gem revered for it’s golden beauty and mysterious qualities. It is the fossilized tree resin from forests that lived 22-60 million years ago, and it is said that there is a ray of ancient sunlight captured in every piece. The existence of amber is alchemy at its finest involving a unique exchange with each element- earth, air, fire, and water- stretching over eons with remnants of long ago Life caught up in the ever-changing dance of our planet Earth.
It has been called liquid sunshine, petrified light, and gold of the sea. Though technically not a gem, it is classified as an organic gem. Whereas most minerals are made of inorganic materials and are considered gems, amber is made of organic matter that has been mineralized and used as a gem. Other examples of organic gems are pearl, coral, abalone, ivory, bone, and even the meteorite moldavite. Deposits have been found in Russia and the Baltic Sea countries, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Myanmar, and Columbia.
Amber and its unique natural properties have inspired myth and legend throughout the ages, and in turn have dictated its usage. It had been used as glass in ancient Asia and Greece. Wool spinning tools were made from amber because the fibers clung to it due to its electromagnetic property. It was used in the earliest experiments with electricity. With tinfoil behind a clear piece of amber it can act like a mirror and many such mirrors have been found in graves in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Italy. For thousands of years amber was used for adornments and in decoration, with some pieces dating back to 8,000 years ago!
Hardness: Amber registers between 2-3 on the Mohs scale (talc 1- diamond 10) making it ideal for carving.
Classification & Structure: Organic and amorphous in structure.
Specific Gravity: 1.04-1.1 Only slightly heavier than water, amber is buoyant and stays afloat in salt water. White opaque amber with millions of tiny air bubbles will float in fresh water.
Transparency: From perfectly clear in a variety of colors to completely opaque, sometimes a cloudy mix, often with botanical inclusions, organic matter, and/or air bubbles. It also has the interesting characteristic of the back being visible from the front and vice versa, though often blurry.
Electromagnetic: Amber becomes negatively charged and produces static electricity when friction is applied.
Once charged, amber will act as a magnet to lightweight materials such as lint, straw, feathers, hair, etc. The word electricity is based on the Greek word for amber, elektron.
Magnifying: Transparent amber is a natural magnifier and it can act as a lens. In addition, a clear piece of amber with a convex surface can be used as a burning lens.
Color: Varying shades of yellow, honey, orange, red, cognac, white, brown, green, blue, ‘black’ or a super dense, dark color.
Fluorescence: Mainly amber from Mexico, Dominican Republic, and Indonesia contain the hydrocarbon perylene, that when in sunlight or under a white light on a black surface, fluoresces green, blue green, to deep blue.
Cross culturally, amber has long been considered a stone of protection. Here in southern Mexico and Central America local Mayans continue to wear it to ward off the evil eye. It is said to bring good luck and romance. Amber is known to draw out and clear bad energy/vibes while promoting a cheerful, sunny outlook. It is warming and calming and said to encourage patience. Amber aids in purifying and cleansing the body, mind, and spirit. Amber is also a stone of manifestation, helping to bring thoughts, dreams, and ideas into reality. It carries the ancient wisdom, life force, and blessings of Mother Earth and the natural world.
Amber is known to relieve headaches. It helps to eliminate fear and worry, alleviate stress and depression, and supports balance and patience. It was used to treat jaundice and aid in pain relief.
Benefiting from Amber
One of the best ways to benefit from the healing energy of amber has always been to wear it as jewelry, and another is to have it around you in your home decor as a carving, sphere/s, or a polished piece…
Check out our stock online stores to see our awesome selection of:
Mexican Amber earrings, necklaces, bracelets, rings, carvings, spheres, and polished pieces
Dominican Amber pieces, bracelets, and carvings
Indonesian Amber cabochons