Friday, February 11, 2011

An Amber Story - the Tears of Trees.

Hello readers,

Well it has been quite a while since I wrote my 'Garnet Story'
I would like to write this gemstone story about Amber, another of my personal favourites.

Amber is the fossilized, hardened resin of the pine tree. Some call it the "tears of trees".
Why this mass weeping of resin occurred so long ago (about 50 million years ago) is not entirely known.
One theory is that it was as a consequence of global warming; others suggest it was a matter of evolution.
Over the years the amber resin dripped from the trees and was absorbed into the soil.
It then solidified and the long process of fossilisation began.

One very interesting event that sometimes happened during the solidification process was the entrapment of insects in the still soft resin as they crawled over the forest floor.
Amber samples that have insects embedded within are both fascinating scientifically and extremely valuable.

Baltic Amber with insect 

Amber deposits are mostly found in the Baltic; the largest deposit in the world is west of Kalingrad, Russia.
A lot of amber is still buried deep, hundreds of metres underground, hidden forever.
Some amber deposits that were not so deeply embedded in the folds of the earth were washed out by the action of glaciers and rivers and are still being found today.

Amber is very light and will float in sea water.
There are still places in Poland that go "amber fishing" today, searching amongst the shallows of the sea with nets for amber pieces.

Amber, of course, like many other gemstones can be imitated and, these days, as we know, some copies are really good; it's almost impossible for the untrained eye to spot the real thing.

As I have mentioned above, it is very light and will float. That is one indicator of authenticity.
If you apply nail polish remover to amber it should not be affected in any way. If the amber is actually plastic, it will become sticky.
Another test is to light it with a match.
Real amber will give out a nice fragrant pine smell, noxious fumes if plastic.
However, it's a bit difficult to do the latter test in a shop!

My Grandmother's amber necklace

This amber necklace (I think) belonged to my Grandmother, the same one who wore the Garnet ring.
(I say think because I remember the beads being larger and the strand longer, strange how things seem smaller now that we are adults!)

I remember sitting on her bed as a child and trying this necklace on and running it through my fingers.
She told me that the amber would take on the warmth of the person wearing it, and to me that was magic!

(These facts about amber have been taken from a wonderful book, Jewels, by Victoria Finlay, an amazing book full of history and travel stories of these 'miraculous oddities of nature'.

(Photo of Baltic amber with insect taken from Wikipedia).

You can see 'My Garnet Story' by clicking here.

Cheers for now,



My Life Under the Bus said...

Yes things do look bigger when your smaller! LOl what a pretty necklace. I am almost finished with Lola - she wasn't so cooperative! Have a great weekend, Patty : )

Pretty Things said...

So interesting! And I agree about things being bigger in our memory.

Anonymous said...

Wow -- I never knew some of those facts about amber ... while I would never want to touch flame to a beautiful piece of finished jewelry, it's interesting to think of smelling the scent of something that grew millions of years ago ... Nice post!


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