(Last Updated on : 28/12/2012)
Amber is a hard, translucent orange, yellow or brownish yellow fossil resin used for the purpose of crafting jewelry and other ornamental objects. It is heterogeneous in composition and is relatively soft and can be easily carved. It is also a common name for the fossil resin and is accepted and appreciated by all alike for its intrinsic and fascinating mixture of shades. Although amber is believed to be a gem but it a wholly organic material, which derived from the resin of some extinct species of trees. These trees were in the dense forests of the Middle Cretaceous and Tertiary periods and when they fell, the rivers to coastal regions carried them away. As geological time passed on the forests were buried and the resin became covered with the sediment and hardened into a soft, warm and golden gem called amber. Many components of amber are similar to that of the modern resins. The best-known amber in the world occurs at the coast of the Baltic Sea.
The history of amber can be traced back to ancient times when it was regarded as a highly valued material. It was believed to have magical healing powers and was also used to make varnish. Powdered amber was valued as incense. Amber was traded to a wide extent all over the globe. Popular scholars can also determine the geographical extent of the amber by identifying the timber of amber used in ancient artifacts. The types of amber available are Blue amber; Baltic amber, Dominican amber, Delatynite, Cretaceous amber. The last type is also believed to be more than 65 million years old and is very brittle. The static electricity was believed to be a unique property of the amber until the 16th century. The Taino Indians of the Hispaniola offered gifts of amber to Christopher Columbus.
Amber jewllerySince long amber has been carved and worked into beads, jewelry and other distinct types of ornaments. It is also used for medicinal purposes and is said to be rubbed on sore eyes and sprained limbs or worn for chest ailments. In the recent days however amber is valued for the surprising array of fossils preserved in the inner parts. When amber is used for crafting jewellery it is usually transparent yellow, reddish brown or amber color. Capable of being highly polished, it is the oldest decorative substance known allover. Amber is also used for the manufacture of beads, mouthpieces, amulets, cigarette and cigar holders, pipes and other small ornamental objects. The fossils of amber are three-dimensional with life like colors and patterns and even the internal cell structures are often intact.