One truly unique gem is called “amber.” Not only does its glistening golden orange-brown color make it memorable, but so does its origin. Amber comes from the resin of punctured ancient trees that have been fossilized for thousands of years. Although many consider amber a gemstone, it is only classified as a gem since it has organic material. Even though it isn’t technically a gemstone, it primarily functions as one due to its beauty, color and wide use in jewellery.
Since amber comes from fossilized material, it is not entirely uncommon to find small creatures trapped inside. In fact, most of amber’s inclusions are actually small flies or other insects. The rarest entrapment was a theropod dinosaur feather! It is because of amber’s inclusions and formation that scientists have been able to reveal many extinct species. In 2009, Illinois coal miners discovered an amber that researchers dated back 320 million years ago.
Amber is not only relevant in research, but its use in jewellery dates as far back as 11,000 BCE. It was also used as folk medicine in ancient China and Greece and even as a perfume when burned! Amber scores between 2 to 2.5 on the Mohs Scale of Mineral Hardness. As a result, one must take excellent care of their amber jewellery since it is fragile. Amber can be found worldwide, including Myanmar, Alaska, and the Dominican Republic, but it is primarily in the Baltic regions of Europe.
How do you determine if amber is genuine? For one, saltwater allows it to float. Amber also becomes warm when held, and if you scrape it with a knife, the residue will be powdery, not flaky. Deep yellow and cherry red amber are generally the most valuable of this gem, and the more inclusions it has, the pricier it can be. In general, amber is an affordable gem, but the most expensive piece of amber to ever grace the markets sold for a whopping $200,000. This particular amber weighed over 104 pounds, verified by the Guinness World Records and sold by the renowned House of Amber.