Golden Time Capsule
is a delicate, fossilized tree resin that often locks in secrets from
the past. Amber is available in a wide array of colors, the most popular
ranging from yellow to orange, mimicking the color of honey touched by
the setting sun. Other less common colors include red, green, blue,
violet and black. Ranging from transparent to opaque, the finest amber
is clear with little or no cloudiness.
is one of the few gem materials not technically considered a mineral.
Formed from fossilized tree resins 10 million to 100 million years ago,
it is classified as an organic gem. Unlike most gemstones, inclusions
can add a great deal to the value of amber – especially if these
inclusions are plants or insects that have been trapped inside. A
complete leaf or mushroom is highly desirable. Even more sought-after
are pieces of amber containing the completely intact body of an insect.
Being a gemstone of organic origins, amber requires some special but
simple care and handling. Amber is a rather soft gemstone and can be
easily scratched. It lends itself well to earrings and necklaces where
contact with hard objects is minimized.
Throughout documented history amber has been washing up on the
shores of countries lining the Baltic Sea. One of today’s best sources
for amber is the Dominican Republic. Secondary sources include Myanmar
Amber is sometimes heated to create deeper colors, or heated in oil
to remove cloudiness. Oil-heated amber often contains highly reflective,
disc-like inclusions called spangles.
A soft, damp cloth may be used for cleaning amber. Amber should
never be submitted to steam or ultrasonic cleaning. Avoid alcohol,
bleach and all harsh chemicals. Also avoid prolonged exposure to hot
water. The safest and best way to clean a piece of jewelry containing
amber is with cool water, a very mild soap and a soft brush. Be sure to
rinse thoroughly and allow the amber to dry completely before storing
the piece in your jewelry box. Store each piece separately so that other
jewelry won’t scratch it.
Photo: Robert Weldon, Professional Jeweler Magazine © 2002-2005 Jewelers