Amber is often classified with crystals and gemstones but is not an actual gemstone. Amber is not hardened tree sap, it is fossilized natural resin from coniferous and other tree species. Although both sap and resin are organic substances produced by trees, resin is sticky and will not dissolve in water, unlike sap, which is largely sugar and water. The aging process for most Amber is millions of years, with an average range of 30 to 90 million years. Younger preserved natural resins are known as Copal.
On the Market
Amber is usually transparent or translucent. Cloudy Amber has trapped air and is often heated in oil to clear it. Most stones on the market are “ambroids” formed by heating small fragments of amber and then pressing them together to create a larger mass of material. In the Baltic region, beaded Amber necklaces are used to provide natural pain relief from teething symptoms in infants. Amber items with trapped insects and transparent but intense color are highly sought by collectors and always bring higher prices.
Enhancement and Treatment
Inexpensive imitation Amber is widely available and golden Amber is often simulated by use of plastics and polymers, or sometimes glass. There are three easy tests to detect synthetic Amber:
- Authentic Amber will float in a saturated salt solution; imitation Amber will sink to the bottom.
- True Amber can be charged with electricity, and when rubbed will produce a negative electrical charge.
- A heated sewing needle pushed against genuine Amber will only slightly penetrate it and produce a pungent odor similar to old, damp wood.
Gemologists group Amber by locality: Succinite (Baltic), Burmite (Burmese), Simetite (Sicilian) and Rumanite (Romanian) and also by type: Sea variety Amber is found under the sea, Pit variety Amber is dug from the earth, and clear, massive, fancy, cloudy, frothy, fatty, or bone varieties of Amber all denote the physical properties.
Amber is thought to produce the best results when worn directly against the skin to allow the resin oils to be absorbed and to convert negative energy into positive energy. The intention is for the oils to penetrate the skin and balance the mind-body-spirit. The many colors of Amber are worn for different reasons:
Black Amber provides grounding energy and protects against psychic attack
Green Amber will help remove hindrances to spiritual growth
Golden Amber is the stone of peace, self-love and acceptance
Honey Amber is thought to bring clarity
Red Amber is believed to enhance fertility
Amber in Jewelry
Amber jewelry is somewhat fragile. Because of the softness of the stone, avoid heat, chemicals and impact. Stones are best used in brooches, pendants and earrings, although Amber can be used for bracelets and rings if the stones are well protected from impact by a good surround of metal in the design. Amber will be damaged or dissolve in strong solvents and alcohol and should never be cleaned mechanically.