A Shocking "Stone" — 3 Things You Didn't Know About Amber

Posted on: 26 January 2018

When you're going out to purchase amber in whatever form for whatever reason, the most you know about it might just be its lovely, deep honey color — but amber deserves more than a light appreciation or to be used as a modifier when describing brown eyes. Amber is important in many cultures for many different reasons, while at the same time being a gorgeous color and naturally-occurring fossilization. If you're wanting to know a bit more about amber before you purchase some, then here's what you need to know.

It's Not A Gemstone

Amber is marketed with other gemstones, sold alongside other gemstones, appears with gemstones in everything from jewelry to watches, is a jewel-tone in fashion — but amber itself isn't actually a gemstone. It's actually simply fossilized tree resin, beginning life soft and sticky before fossilizing into the hard "stone" that you see it as in the jewelry store.

Further proof of its sap-like beginnings is in what happens if you heat amber up over 392 degrees Fahrenheit, at which point amber turns back into a liquid and is referred to as "oil of amber" and can be added to other oils to create a varnish.

It Might Have Healing Properties

Folk medicine endeavors to use natural ingredients as remedies for sicknesses, and most remedies have been around for hundreds of years. This is also the case with amber, which is used in folk medicine to help with the pain caused by teething; the young child is supposed to wear a bracelet or necklace made of amber, which then releases small amounts of oil into the skin, helping to ease the discomfort.

It should be noted that amber in folk medicine is not meant to be ingested, and that the teething bracelet should not go near the child's mouth or be sucked on.

It's Useful to Science

Amber is in fact probably the most important, scientifically speaking, of any "stone" you might encounter in jewelry, in that it can trap specimens of insects from millions of years ago in its stick web and then harden to create a perfect fossil.

This allows scientists to recreate what ecosystems might have been like at the time, allowing paleontologists to see what insect and plant life was like millions of years ago. Nowadays you can even purchase amber with insects trapped and fossilized inside, creating a piece of statement jewelry with indisputable historical significance.

To purchase amber, consider sellers like Amber International.