Amber, the gem of a stone that's not really a gemstone at all, is actually fossilized pine sap. People have collected, traded, carved, and coveted amber for more than 10,000 years. Yet despite our fascination with it, much about the smoky yellow stone -- the history of amber -- remains a mystery.
The price for amber stones varies widely, in the right price range for Average Joe's (and Joannas) who can spend as little as $20 for amber and silver jewelry, and also for high-rollers ready to spend $40,000 or more for a "slice of sunshine" in amber jewelry crafted in gold, platinum, and featuring other gemstones. And although it not an official "birthstone -- a designation reserved for actual gemstones -- amber is often presented to those born under the sign of Taurus (April 19-May 19).
History of Amber
Amber is found in Myanmar home to the largest piece of transparent amber in the world (33.5 pounds and 40-50 million years old), as well as Lebanon, Sicily, Mexico, Romania, Germany, and Canad. The two main sources of amber on the market today, however, are the Dominican Republic and the Baltic states.
Once highly regulated, Baltic amber has become more widely available due to more liberal economic policies in Eastern Europe. Today, the whole world enjoys amber minded from the Baltic region, where the largest mine is in Russia, west of Kaliningrad.
Baltic amber may also be found in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, Russia. Baltic amber has even washed up on the shores of the Baltic Sea in Denmark, Norway, and England. Baltic amber is the oldest geological specimen to be used in jewelry. Archeologists digging near the Baltic Sea have found evidence of Baltic amber jewelry that is approximately 40,000 years old.
Green Amber is a completely natural variation of Baltic Amber. The green color is a result of plant interaction with the resin. While green is a more valuable color of amber than brown, the best quality of amber remains clear, transparent, and flawless.
Slightly softer than Baltic amber, Dominican amber is prized for its coloration, including yellow and deep red, as well as the distinctive (and rare) blue and smoky green hues that come exclusively from that area.
Shocking Information about Amber
The ancient name for amber was "electron," the root word of electricity. Around 600 B.C., it was discovered that if an amber stone was rugged vigorously, it became electrically charged. Believed to carry a negative electrical energy charge, amber was used to draw power and energy into its bearer.
In addition to its ability to attract energy and power, amber was believed to aid the intellect. It was prescribed for memory loss; eccentric behavior; anxiety, and indecisiveness.
The Joy of Amber
Amber jewelry is said to help one be joyful and happy. The cheery yellow stone is believed to lighten the burdens of life.
Healers say that amber activates our altruistic nature and helps us realize the full power of our spiritual intellect.
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