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To understand amber jewelry, it is first important to understand exactly what amber is.  Simply put amber is fossilized resin from trees.  Because of this, it is common for pieces of moss, pine needles, insects, and lichens to be found trapped within the resin, often times having been there for millions of years.  Even though amber is not mined as most precious stones, it is still considered beautiful and a durable gem. 

One of the things that makes amber so interesting is the long history of theories conjured up by alchemists and philosophers.  For example, during the Roman era in the 1st Century, it was thought that amber was created from lynx urine, with the dark amber being the product of the male and light colored amber coming from the female.  Another fascinating theory was that the rays of the setting sun somehow became congealed in the sea, which was then cast upon the shore in the form of amber. 

However, by 240 BC, an astrologer discovered that amber had many of the same characteristics and properties of gemstones.  He then found that a tree by the name of Lynx, which grows in Liguria, was actually responsible for the creation of this substance.  He also found that while the beautiful amber or gold color was most common, other colors were formed to include yellow, green blue, violet, and black.  These rarer colors today are highly sought after, with the green and blue being the most valuable. 

Typically, amber is transparent or translucent with a greasy-like shine.  The cloudy appearance that is commonly seen in its raw form is caused by pockets of air trapped inside.  However, once the amber is heated, oil fills those spaces of air, which then transforms it to the clear shade we know it as best.  Then, when amber is rubbed briskly with a soft cloth, it is actually charged with electricity, causing pieces of tissue paper and straw to attract to it.  This was actually a discovery made during the 6th Century by a German scientist, which is how the name, “electron” was formed, a derivative of “electricity.” 

Amber serves many wonderful purposes.  For example, amber was first used for medicinal uses.  For example, amber was ground to a powder and then mixed with wine.  The belief was that the properties when consumed provided relief from croup, asthma, fever, and tonsillitis.  After being consumed, a chunk of amber or the powder kept in a small vial was then worn around the neck, which is how it first started being worn as jewelry.  Amber was also used in treating painful ear conditions.  Again, in powder form, amber was mixed this time with honey and rose oil, and then packed into the infected ear – thus amber earrings! 

Amber quickly became a popular choice for jewelry.  Along with its healing powers, amber has radiant color and durability.  Therefore, it was quickly designed for rings, earrings, bracelets, necklace pendants, and even hair jewelry.


Chinese Dynasties The Great Wall of China
The Forbidden City The Terracotta Army

Amber Bracelets
Amber Earrings
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