"Thousands of years ago people were fascinated by the extraordinary, inexplicable properties of the golden pebbles found on beaches and in coastal forests. The stone burnt when cast into the fire, exuding a pleasant resinous smell and aromatic smoke, and, when rubbed, attracted various small light items towards itself as if by magic”

from The Great Book of Amber by Elzbieta Mierzwinska

 

“Tears of the Sun”, “Gold of the North”, “Burning Stone”, and “Sea Gold” – these are all different names for amber, a unique honey-colored gemstone.

It has a long history. Amber has been used in jewelry since the Stone Age. Amber ornaments and decorations have been found in Mycenaean tombs and all across Europe. Endowed with magical properties, the gemstone is believed to bring prosperity and good luck to its owner. It is also said to protect against the evil eye. Ancient people worshiped amber as a piece of the sun fallen to Earth. In the Middle Ages the gemstone was so expensive that a mere handful would make you wealthy as a king.

Amber is one of the few precious substances on earth that we consider a gem and use in jewelry making which is not of mineral origin. Amber is highly valued as a gemstone for its variety of color and natural beauty. It appears in 256 identified shades-from a nearly black brownish-red, orange, green, yellow & cream to white and very rarely, even blue & tints of violet.

About 80% of the world’s amber comes from the Baltic region. Blue amber, a version that has a distinct and lovely blue cast, comes only from the Dominican Republic. Some regions within the United States also produce amber, including deposits in California and Kansas.

Amber is the lightest weight & softest of all gems. Its golden transparency lends it a quality which even diamonds do not share. For the artisan it provides a remarkable medium to work with and create some of the most beautiful objects. Often paired with silver, amber jewelry ranges from delicate earrings to large, chunky statement pieces worn as necklaces or bracelets. The soft gem also lends itself to carving into ornate shapes. No two amber pieces are identical.

 One of the most exciting and interesting aspects of amber are the inclusions which are found within it, both flora and fauna. The gemstone can serve as a window into history and provide scientists and amber-lovers with a glimpse of the past ages.

There are some unusual and extraordinary things which infrequently turn up in amber. Occasionally a small lizard will be found, trapped and encased in amber, particularly from the Dominican Republic deposits. The American Natural History Museum has a famous example of a 25,000,000 year old gecko.

Rick Otte has a number of amber stones with some very interesting inclusion at his Lapidary Arts store. These unique pieces could be turned into one-of-a-kind designer jewelry. Visit our store and choose your own piece of the Sun.