The distinctive colouring and markings of amber is like no other gem. It exudes a warmth that has enchanted humans for thousands of years, and is as popular and loved today as it was in ancient times.
So what is it about this beautiful gem that makes it so special? A history so long it seems older than time itself? The fascinating colours? Or the alluring mystical qualities it seems to possess?
Let’s find out a bit more about amber and the timeless allure of this ancient gem.
What is amber?
Amber isn’t technically a stone. It’s actually fossilised tree resin originating from ancient pine forests. And we’re talking pretty ancient! The oldest amber discovered is thought to be around 320 million years old.
Resin is secreted from certain trees in response to injury. The sticky, aromatic substance oozes out to form a protective layer, capturing insects, debris and animal matter, preventing them from invading the tree. Often, fossilised seeds and insects can found in older amber deposits, especially Baltic amber.
The older the amber, the higher its value. Much of the amber used in jewellery today is much younger, a mere 30-90 million years old!
The oldest and most precious amber originates from the Baltic region. It can also be found in Denmark, Britain, Poland, Italy and Germany.
Amber in history
Amber has been used since the Neolithic age, around 10,200 BC. Archeologists found amber used as adornments on Ancient Egyptian tombs, at the excavation site of Troy, and in jewellery and decorations from Ancient Greece and Rome. In the Middle Ages it was considered so precious, you had to have special permission to collect it.
Although amber was only confirmed to be tree resin by scientists in the 19th Century, it has always been associated with healing powers. Considering the protective benefits of resin, maybe there’s an element of truth in the folklore beliefs.
Since Roman times amber has been used to cure a number of ills. Even Hippocrates wrote about amber’s medical qualities. Amber was believed to have cleansing and purification powers that could draw out disease and negative energy, and heal the body and mind.
It was also worn as a talisman to bring happiness, health and prosperity to the wearer. Today, amber is often given as a gift to bring good fortune to the recipient, as well as being used as an ingredient in quality beauty products.
Whatever you believe, there’s no doubting that amber has special qualities. The warm glow created by a stunning spectrum of colours ranging from light yellows to orange and deeper browns, certainly evokes a positive reaction that lifts our spirits and lightens our mood.
One thing’s for sure, a piece of amber jewellery either for yourself or as a gift for someone you love, will be a lifelong, treasured possession.
Filigree Street offers an exquisite selection of amber jewellery and beauty products to choose from. Browse our online store for our full collection.