Almost every gem that you are likely familiar with is a mineral. Organic gems, however, are not minerals and actually come from plants and animals. They’re also some of the oldest known materials that were first used for jewellery and other ornaments.
Amber is a fascinating material which is considered an organic gem, along with Pearls, Coral, Jet, and Ivory.
Amber is an ancient substance which is formed from tree resin, usually coming from pine trees, that has hardened over millions of years. Many people don’t realize that all Amber is at least a million years old, with most being over 120 million years old! That alone makes it an unbelievably interesting and fascinating jewel to have in your collection.
The German word for Amber is actually ‘bernstein’ which means ‘burn stone.’ Historically, Amber was actually used very similarly to incense, and when it burns it has a very soft, sweet scent.
Amber is well-known for its warm, golden colours, and its hues can be transparent to opaque. It’s also quite soft and only graded a 2-2.5 on the Moh’s Hardness Scale. Quite surprisingly, Amber can also be found in colours such as white, green and blue. It also sometimes shows fluorescence, which can cause a greenish or bluish glow.
The Baltic Sea region is one of the most famous sources for Amber, and is also where rare Blue Amber can sometimes be found. Because it floats in water, it often collects along beaches in these areas where people collect and sell it. Another major source is the Dominic Republic. Some Amber can also be found to be colour-treated, so you do have to be somewhat weary of that, especially if you’re in the market for rare green or blue Amber specimens.
Of course, this unique gem really came to fame after the film Jurassic Park, which generated a lot of interest in the stone. While it is somewhat inexpensive when formed in standard cabochons, inclusions which sometimes include various insects, plants and even prehistoric animals like frogs, lizards and scorpions can sell for thousands of dollars.