Did you know that amber has been prized since Neolithic times? Amber has been used to make amulets, jewelry, and to create the the world-famous Russian Amber Room, which was called the “Eight Wonder of the World”.
Here are five amazing facts about amber that everyone should know:
1. Amber is a gem material, not a gemstone.
Amber is not a mineral, it is fossilized ancient tree resin. Amber’s beauty and translucence makes it desireable for being used in jewelry and decorations and jewelry. Gem material is correct classification for organic gems like pearls, coral, and amber.
2. The world’s largest amber deposits are in the Baltic region.
The northern Europe ancient Palaeogene forests produced over 105 tons of amber in the Baltic region. The Baltic amber that was formed millions of years ago was moved around northern Europe by glaciers and river flow. The Baltic region contains the largest known deposit of amber in the world. Baltic amber is also considered to be the highest quality amber in the world.
Today, Baltic amber is still collected in on the shores of Sweden, Poland, Finland, northern Germany, western Russia, and the Baltic States. Locals often use landing nets to “fish” for amber in the Baltic sea, particularly during winter, when the slightly heavier salt water causes the amber that is caught in seaweed float a bit so it can be moved in the current.
3. Amber jewelry dates back to at least 11,000 B.C.
Amber jewelry has been found at archeological sites in England, and polished amber jewelry and carved amber decorations have been found dating back to 11,000 B.C.
There have been many finds of amber jewelry dating from ancient Egypt, ancient Greece, and ancient Rome. Mycenaean graves dating to 2,000 B.C. with thousands of Baltic amber beads indicate that thriving amber trade routes existed from the Baltic shores to the Eastern Mediterranean.
4. Amber was used in folk medicine.
Throughout history to the late 1800s, amber was believed charm against infections and help cure them. Baltic Amber was used to treat a wide variety of ailments in ancient Greece. Powdered amber was mixed with honey to cure ear infections, cure dimming eyesight, and ailments of the stomach. Amber oil was often prescribed for whooping cough and asthma.
In the Orient, amber incense was created by throwing amber on a hot brick. It was believed that amber incense imparted people with strength and courage from the soul of the tiger. Amber is cited in the holy book of Buddhism as one of the seven stones that will bring good luck.
5. The demand for amber has surged.
Jurassic Park, the hit movie in which dinosaur DNA preserved in amber was used to resurrect them, raised global awareness of amber. Most recently, China has become one of the largest markets for amber, and especially high quality Baltic amber. Although most Chinese buyers purchase high quality amber as an investment, amber is also used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). In TCM, amber is believed to sooth circulatory ailments and have calming properties.