Amber is an organic gemstone that has been appreciated for its natural beauty and made into a range of decorative objects from as far back as the Neolithic times. Contrary to popular belief it is actually made from fossilized tree resin– not sap– from evergreen trees. It forms when overlying resinous sediments trigger high pressure and temperature, transforming the resin to copal. The resin eventually fossilizes into amber through time and resistance. It also forms in coal seams. It comes in a variety of colors and shades, ranging from pale white or yellow to brown and even black. It also occurs in red (referred to as “cherry amber”), green, and highly sought after blue varieties. It has been used in folk medicine as a healing agent as an ingredient in liquor and perfumes and burned as incense but it is usually made into jewelry. It is well known for the fascinating plant and animal inclusions that it commonly contains due to its past as a soft and sticky resin that could easily entrap other substances. Amber containing insect inclusions have been carved into talismans and worn to ensure successful hunting. It has an amorphous structure and a specific gravity so low that it floats in salt water and and is very difficult to imitate. It can be translucent or opaque. It has a Moh’s hardness of 2-2.5, making it very easy to cut. The main source of amber is found near Kaliningrad, Russia. The Baltic region provides the second largest source. Amber from this source washes up from the seabed. The rare blue amber (much younger than other varieties of amber) is found in the Dominican Republic. Other locations where amber has been found include the US, Canada, Mexico, Myanmar, China, Japan, Italy and Romania.
Metaphysically, amber is believed to carry a “sunny” energy that may cheer up its wearer. It is said to eliminate negative energy and enforce a positive outlook. It is believed to open and cleanse the chakras, connect us to universal perfection, turn dreams into reality, stimulate the mind, and promote unconditional love. It has been considered a symbol of assured promises, such as in the renewal of marriage vows. It has been used by warriors to bring good luck. Some people use it to purify birthing rooms as it is believed to cleanse the environment.
Amber and its extracts have been used to alleviate and cure a range of health ailments ever since the time of Hippocrates in ancient Greece. It may provide benefits in the treatment of diseases of the throat, as well as of the bladder, kidneys, and stomach. In ancient times it was ground or soaked and taken orally as a kind of antibiotic. It is also believed to cleanse the blood and aid in the movement of energy throughout the body. This may result in relief from pain in ligaments and joints.