Amber has always been a mystery causing for gemologists to keep searching for answers. Nowadays, there are certainly many facts that we do know about the fiery gem that it is brought to us by nature. From how it is made to where it can be found and the tiny creatures that got trapped along the way, scientists have discovered as much information as possible and are still learning every day about the planet that existed millions and millions of years ago.
How Is Amber Made?
It’s the most beautiful organic gemstone thats journey began millions of years ago. Amber is made from resin, which seeps out from pine trees to repair any injuries from weather or parasites. Over time, the resin begins to harden and during a natural disaster such as a glacier, the forest along with the resin became swept up in to the ocean and eventually buried under layers and layers of sediment on the sea bed. The lack of oxygen causes fossilisation and for the resin to transform into Amber.
As you can imagine not all the resin turned into Amber due to volatile weather conditions. The hardened tacky substance has to be pretty resilient to the sun, wind and rain. Many pieces of resin can degrade after a long exposure to the elements and only the most resistant survives.
It is one of the few gemstones that features insects and plant debris perfectly preserved. Each piece differs depending on what creature became trapped as the resin oozed down the trunk. Expect to find beetles, spiders and flies and sometimes, if you’re lucky, small lizards are frozen in time. Many scientists, gemologists and historians are truly fascinated with Amber and how it offers a window in to a time that no longer exists.
Where Can Amber Be Found?
A patient and persistent beachcomber can spot the glow of Amber on the shore, especially after a turbulent storm. In particular, the Baltic coastline is home to rich Amber deposits, which include countries such as Bulgaria, Lithuania and Poland. During severe weather, Amber is disturbed from the seabed and is swept to the sandy beaches. Low in gravity, the fiery gem is extremely light and its low density means it can float in salt water - a great test to determine whether what you have found is the real deal.
Avoid the Copycats
For those who are unfamiliar with the captivating gemstone may come across similar looking fragments on the beach. Carnelian is often mistaken for Amber due to its similar colouring. It is a variety of the mineral chalcedony and gets its colour from the impurities of iron oxides. Carnelian doesn’t float in sea water and is hard and cold to touch, which is the complete opposite of Amber.
However, plastics and synthetic resins are more difficult to tell the difference as they are warm and do float. Therefore, rubbing it with your hands or a cloth will help to understand what you have discovered as Amber gives off the smell of pine or turpentine whereas artificial materials have a chemical odour.