sheila of satin crystals holding up a raw amber gemstone wearing two chunky beaded amber stretch braceletsLisa's Personal Experience with Amber

We used to exhibit our gems at trade shows, where we would meet different vendors from around the world. Once upon a time, we set up shop near a Polish man full of Amber treasures. It was my first encounter with such a vast selection of Amber. I purchased a ring with two small gems in sterling silver.

Since then, I have become much more familiar and fond of Amber. Having traveled to Poland several times, I have seen the best pieces. If you know anything about Amber, you understand that Baltic Amber is the most coveted. I own a Baltic Amber pendant that I wear on a silver chain. I purchased it at the Zielona Gora wine festival in Poland.

Amber is one of my top 5 favorite minerals. I can't really compare it to other crystals, because it is in a category of its own and of different origin.

While living in Budapest, I had Baltic Amber readily available. I found pieces with large and lovely bugs inside. These are great for past life regression and therapy work, since they hold the power of history within.

Amber jewelry is so bright, colorful and light to wear. I love the hues which range from bold yellow to dark burnt auburn. It is such a fall friendly color. Amber matches my wardrobe, adding a bit of pop to otherwise Earthy tones. I gladly share my passion for Amber through the several jewelry pieces and polished specimens that we offer at the Satin Crystals boutique.

sheila of satin crystals holding up a pair of baltic amber sterling silver travel earrings

Sheila's Personal Experience with Amber

My first real connection with Amber was in the form of Copal. We had made a wholesale purchase of intricately carved animal figurines from a Mexican vendor whom I have long forgotten now. The translucent orange Copal stones were fragile but magnificent.

We have long sold out on those pieces, but I still remember them fondly. I kind of wish I had kept one for myself. 

My current experience with Amber is the real stuff of ancient history. Thanks to my sister Lisa's stay in Hungary, Satin Crystals has a direct pipeline to Baltic Amber. I was inspired by my trip to Budapest for my sister's wedding to create the Amber travel earrings, which are now a part of our signature jewelry line. 

What is Amber?

Amber is not technically a crystal, but it has been used as a gemstone since ancient times. Amber is commonly known as an organic gem.

Amber is a hardened resin from prehistoric trees. The ancient trees were like today’s pines and spruce trees. The different types of prehistoric trees created over 200 different types of Amber. 

You may confuse tree sap with tree resin. Amber comes from tree resin. There are some debates in the scientific community as to what the purpose of the resin was. It either oozed out of the trees to seal its own punctures and wounds or it was a way for the trees to excrete any unwanted minerals from within.

Either way, the resin captured any living creatures, fur, feathers, leaves and materials along its downward journey. Like a sticky stream of very slow moving Lava, the ancient tree resin hardened over millions of years to form what we now collect as Amber. 

Amber through History

Amber is prized for being able to give us a glimpse into millions of years into the past. It's known as a time traveler stone, physically presenting us with creatures and landscapes that existed beyond a time which we can fathom today. 

  • The oldest Amber found was from 320 million years ago. 

  • Baltic Amber is about 50 million years old and is collected when it washes up on the shores of Northern European countries or is dug up from the earth. 

  • Dominican Republic Amber is about 20 million years old. It is mined from mud stones and known for its tropical inclusions.

  • In the Stone Age they used natural rocks to make  hunting weapons, but they also carved Amber. Amber could not serve as anything physically protective because of its softness, but it is believed that the hunters would carve out animals they wanted to conquer. This carving would capture the animal's spirit and make them easier to hunt. 

  • Like Obsidian, Amber findings help archaeologists discover ancient trade routes. Amber is often found with lignite coal (also known as Jet crystal), which is the fossilized remains of trees and plants.

  • The Roman empire brought about a big uplift in the Amber trade. They wore and collected the stone for prestige.

  • The Scandinavian alcohol, Aquavit, was and can still be distilled with Amber flavors because of the stone's ties with traditional folk medicine. 

  • Catherine the Great’s Russian Palace featured a magnificent Amber Room, the 8th wonder of the world, which is totally lined with cut Amber. It was destroyed in World War II and restored from 1982-2003. 

  • Amber burns very slowly so it has been used as candles in the old days and cigar pipe tips. It is still used in some churches as incense. Copal will burn much quicker and is a popular form of incense around the world. 

Where is Amber Found?

Amber is found all over the world, but the most notable deposits that are talked about today are Baltic Amber, Dominican Amber and Burmese Amber. It is found both in water and in land. The Baltic seas wash up pieces of Amber, but it can also be mined from the Earth. 

Dominican Amber is known for its clarity and tropical inclusions. Burmese Amber is unfortunately in a conflict zone and is hard to obtain legally. It is known for its diverse fossil inclusions. 

sheila of satin crystals holding up multiple strands of golden baltic amber beaded necklaces

What's so great about Baltic Amber?

Although Amber is found in many locations and from many time periods, Baltic Amber is prized for being the "real stuff" and the "gold of the north." It all comes down to marketing.

Baltic Amber was made popular by the Roman empire when they sought out this Amber to show off their wealth, status and power. This version of Amber remains famous today thanks to the ancient empire that made it such a coveted gemstone.

Baltic Amber is found in pieces large enough and sturdy enough to work into jewelry and carvings. It is found in massive quantities, making it abundant in the marketplace, but also susceptible to many imposters.

Baltic Amber with natural insects, reptiles and plants are the most rare and the most coveted by collectors. This form of Amber may not have the most, but has the best quality of fossils preserved in its resin. 

So although other deposits have been found over the decades, Baltic Amber continues to shine in the spotlight. 

Amber Mineral Facts

Although Amber has been hardening for millions of years, it is brittle and easily scratched, only a 2-3 on the Mohs Scale of Hardness. Amber can preserve delicate insects with exquisite detail where they would otherwise be crushed in other types of fossil stones.

What is Ambroid? Ambroid is Pressed Amber where heated bits of Amber are welded together to form a larger piece. It has the same properties of Amber, but it is not in its natural formation.

What is Copal? Copal is also hardened resin that comes from living tropical trees or from the soil by the trees. It is younger than Amber and therefore a little softer, easier to burn and will dissolve in acetone. It is a 1.5 on the Mohs Scale of Hardness and much easier scratched than Amber. 

Surface Color: Yellow, Brown, Red

Streak Color: (can vary from surface color, this is the color of the crystals’ powdered minerals): White 

Group: Organics

Cleavage (where the crystal breaks off naturally to form a new face, parallel to its structure. This is a clean break and can cleave over and over again along the same face, retaining the crystals structure): None

Fracture (where you break the crystal not on a natural cleavage): Conchoidal (clam-like fracture which looks like broken glass)

Luster: Resinous

Transparency: Transparent (light flows through crystal unobstructed) to Translucent (light flows through crystal but with obstructions) 

Crystal System: None

Crystal Habit: Amorphous (no particular formation)

Can Amber Change Color?

Yes, Amber can change color when it is exposed to air. Like metals will oxidize, so will Amber. It will become darker thanks to the extra oxygen. So, over time, you will find that your Amber stones may become darker. 

In its natural formation, you will find color banding or gradients of color in Amber. Sometimes Amber is heated to give it a darker color, but it should retain its color banding. 

Amber is found naturally in various colors. Many people prize the translucent versions of Amber for its gem-like clarity. Other people love the opaque versions of the stone like Butterscotch Amber. 

hands holding up a piece of copal and a piece of amber for testing

Testing for Real Amber

Here are some methods to determine if your Amber is really Amber or a Fake. You should use a combination of these tests if you are unsure of the results because they are not exclusive in themselves. For example, Copal may pass many of the following tests but it does not mean it is an Amber.

  • Amber does not dissolve in Alcohol (Copal does). Try a little acetone or nail polish remover to see if it is Copal or an Amber substitute. If it is real Amber, nothing will happen to the stone. If it is Copal, the stone will become sticky and start to dissolve. 

  • Amber will be scratched by a pin (glass and most plastics won’t). Copal will be scratched even easier by a pin. 

  • Amber feels lightweight like plastic, not heavy like glass. When you click Amber or Copal against your teeth, it should sound like plastic not the heavy clink of stones or glass.

  • Amber shows fluorescent colors under UV light. Other materials most likely will not flouresce under UV light, but it is not a guarantee, so you'll need some other tests to rule them out if they do glow. 

  • Amber floats in heavily salted water and sinks in plain water. You will need 1/4 cup of salt dissolved fully in 2 cups of warm water. Drop the suspected gemstones in the salt water mix and see if they float or sink. You can use this test on stones that are not set in jewelry. 

  • Amber is popular for its properties of static electricity. For this test, rub the stone vigorously with a cloth and it will pick up tiny scraps of paper, dust or hairs like a magnet. Most plastics don’t produce static electricity. Copal may become sticky with rubbing. 

  • Amber has a piney smell when burned (plastic will smell like burnt plastic!) and can be burned as incense. Test this with a hot needle. If the needle goes in easily, it's most likely Copal. If it has some resistance, it's most likely real Amber.

  • Amber is a poor conductor of heat, so it is usually warm to the touch whereas glass and other crystals are cold to the touch. Being a poor conductor of heat means that Amber does not take your heat away from your body like other crystals do. This makes Amber warm when you touch it. Glass and gemstones like Amethyst are taking the heat away from your hands, making the stone feel cold. 

  • Amber has a high melting point at 570 degrees Fahrenheit. Even at that temperature, it won't turn to liquid, it will just decompose like incense. Copal on the other hand will melt at a lower temperature. 

sheila of satin crystals's hand holding a pair of genuine amber statement earrings

Metaphysical Energy of Amber

  • Amber connects us with nature and history. It is great for grounding your energies to physical reality, while helping you remember that the long story of mankind and Earth have brought you to where you are today. 

  • Amber helps you to see the humor in life and not take yourselves too seriously. Give it as a gift when you want to lighten the mood in your relationships.

  • Use Amber in crystal grids, meditation or as jewelry to strengthen your memory.

  • Focus on a piece of Amber to help in times of decision making.

  • Drink Amber as a gem elixir to strengthen the immune system.

  • The glowing warmth of Amber is said to hold the energies of the sun. Use the stone to open and balance the Solar Plexus and Sacral Chakras

Magical Incantation of Amber

This is a message from Amber from Doreen Virtue and Judith Lukomski's book "Crystal Therapy":

"I'm one of the oldest known adornmentts, for human eyes are attracted to the luminosity of my color and cool texture. I've often been used in trade as people moved around the globe, providing a source of income along with soothing energy to those who journey with me. As fossilized resin, I mix the remnants of sweetness from the plant kingdom with captured artifacts of nature that reflect the blending of the plant, animal and mineral realms. I'm a tool for earthly manifestation and a reminder to honor environmental needs. Best used in jewelry, I act as a balancing agent for yin and yang energies."

two hands in the air wearing chunky golden orange amber bracelets

Amber Jewelry 

Only a small percentage of Amber is used in jewelry. The rest is used for Pressed Amber or technical purposes like making varnishes, lacquer, ink and linoleum.

Natural, untreated Amber (not Copal) is expensive. Copal and treated Amber can be injected with insects to look like natural Amber. Make sure to buy from a trusted seller or perform the tests for real Amber for certainty. Here at Satin Crystals we offer genuine Baltic and Dominican Amber jewelry. 

Amber Necklaces, Succinite and Pain

If you are a holistic minded parent, you may have heard of the big trend around Amber teething necklaces. Being around infants ourselves, we do not recommend these for babies. Besides the obvious dangers of strangulation and swallowing small objects, the succinic acids in the stones do not actually absorb into the baby's skin.

The theory is that Amber is a resin that the trees secrete when they want to heal their own bark wounds. This resin is known to have a healing acid known as Succinite. Amber does indeed contain succinic acid and is even known under the name Succinite, but the Amber has to be heated to 400 degrees before the acids are released; not something you will want to do with a baby, or any human, around. 

But, what about Amber necklaces for adults? We definitely recommend Amber necklaces for adults, or any child who is responsible enough to wear jewelry! Not only are they a historic wonder to behold, Amber necklaces can bring a glossy shine to your outfit. They hold excellent energy, whether you are using them to clear your chakras or to uplift your mood. 

Caring for your Amber

Real Amber is a very soft material, so it is vital that you handle it with care. The stone is sensitive and will be easily scratched by metals or any harder gemstones, so keep it separated from these dangers. 

To clean Amber, we recommend using just a soft cloth. A little water will not do damage either. Refrain from cleaning with jewelry solutions or alcohol as these may leave an ugly powdery white substance on your Amber. 

If you are looking to clean, charge and program your Amber metaphysically, check out the Crystal Care page for instructions.

Amber Stone Video

Check out the Amber stones in our video. This is part of our A-Z Satin Crystals Meanings videos that gives you a great visual and audio overview of the stones you love the most. 

Do you have a great experience with Amber?

An interesting Amber story to relate? Tell us and we may publish it here!

We always love to hear your positive comments and questions. You can email us directly or reach out in the Contact box.

 

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