amber

AMBER

AMBER

Amber is nature’s time capsule. This fossilized tree resin contains remnants of life on earth millions of years ago.

ABOUT AMBER

The Greeks called amber elektron, or “made by the sun.” Homer praised its bright glow. The Egyptians buried it in tombs for the afterlife. Today’s scientists value amber too: it provides a three-dimensional window into prehistoric ecosystems through the myriad animal and plant inclusions it contains.

BIRTHSTONES & ANNIVERSARIES

While amber isn’t a birthstone, it is associated with the astrological sign of Taurus.

320 MILLION

The oldest amber dates to the Upper Carboniferous Period (approximately 320 million years ago).

6 TONS

The Amber Room, a 1716 gift presented to Russia’s Peter the Great, was made from six tons of amber.

TIME CAPSULE

1,000 extinct animal species as well as various types of plant matter have been identified in amber.

FACTS 1

  • Organic, not mineral: Fossilized resin
  • Chemistry: C10H16O
  • Color: Yellow, orange, and brown
  • Refractive index: 1.540
  • Specific gravity: 1.08
  • Mohs Hardness: 2.0 to 2.5
INTERESTING INCLUSIONS

With inclusions like insects, lizards, leaves, flowers, and feathers, amber helps scientists study ancient ecosystems.2

JURASSIC GEM

Although the movie Jurassic Park is fiction, scientists extracted DNA from insects enclosed in 120-million year old amber.3

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.

QUALITY FACTORS

Assessment of the following characteristics determines amber’s value.

COLOR

quality factors

Amber comes in more colors than “amber.” Rare pieces can even be blue or green.

CLARITY

quality factors

Amber with insect or plant inclusions is much more valuable than amber with none.

CUT

quality factors

Most amber is polished in free-form shapes, cabochons or beads.

CARAT WEIGHT

quality factors

Amber is surprisingly light: in fact, it will float in a saturated salt solution.


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