Posted by Donna Cook on

Amazing Amber 

With it's warm golden hue, amber is sensual, earthy and exciting.  Technically, it is not a stone, but began as tree resin more than 40 million years ago.  Oozing from the trees in ancient forests, it was transformed over a very long time into a natural plastic. (note: tree resin is not the same thing as tree sap.) Amber is amorphous, which means it has no crystalline structure and is preserved only under certain conditions where there is wet sediment and clay.  You might expect to find it at the bottom of a river delta or lagoon. Treasured from Neolithic times to the present, the best amber comes from an area of Denmark known as Skagen, as well as Dominican Republic and Burma.

Amber is a very soft material, registering at 2 on a hardness scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being a diamond.  While it is easy to cut, it is challenging to polish, as the heat from a polishing wheel can melt the amber and leave it dull and slightly sticky instead of shiny. 

Insects and Plants in Amber

The most valuable amber is that which has bugs and/or plant material trapped inside.  Insects such as wasps, spiders, mosquitoes, gnats, frogs and even lizards and scorpions which became stuck inside the resin, give us a look at life on earth some 40 to 100 million years ago.  Flowers, pine cones, grasses, feathers, mushrooms and much more remain forever preserved in amber.  Unlike most gemstones that have less value with more inclusions, the organic inclusions in amber are very much sought after and really add to the price.  Amber has served as a kind of museum, acquainting us with more than 1,000 extinct species of insect.  Along with shells, it is one of the oldest substances used for human adornment.  

Although not the birthstone for Taurus, it is associated with this zodiac sign.  It's golden color is energizing to the core chakra, which affects self confidence and self determination.  

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