By: Harris Botnick
With roots stretching as far back as 90 million years, Amber is considered the oldest substance used for human adornment. Its unusual creation, distinct look, and supposed spiritual benefits make it one of the most unique elements in jewelry today.
Ranging in color from deep brown to white to yellow, Amber is fossilized tree resin that can be found all over the world. Uncommon but valuable colors include cherry red, sea green, and rich Dominican blue. The mineral registers between one and three on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, making it soft for cutting and polishing, yet durable enough to be worn everyday. When choosing the perfect Amber for your next jewelry piece, it is best to look for transparent pieces, as the cloudy ones filled with bubbles are generally less valuable.
Amber is believed to provide its user with health, healing, and energy. Latvian jeweler, Janis Jakobson, follows the principle "objects created out of this substance should be held in great respect, that the material's natural attributes should be enhanced in the creation process."
These natural attributes of course refer to the belief that if held close to the body, Amber will draw out the evil from within. It was even burned in ancient times to cleanse the air during childbirth, warding off bad spirits.
Other interesting uses of Amber throughout history include:
- Medicinal potions. Ground Amber mixed with honey was believed to cure plagues and asthma.
- Teething in children. Amber has been carved into teething rings for thousands of years, with hopes of curing the pain.
- Protection from evil. Sailors used to burn the resin to protect ships from enemies and threatening sea creatures.
- Improving eyesight. The deep shades of amber were believed to improve eyesight simply by gazing into the resin.
- Energetic recharge. The Greek name for Amber is elektron, which means, “formed by the sun.” Just by holding amber, stress is released, creativity enhanced, and the body and mind uplifted.
Sometimes called the “Eighth Wonder of the World,” the great Amber Room of Peter the Great and Catherine the Great was an entire room dedicated to Amber décor and gold leaf. Its legendary beauty hasn’t been seen since 1941 when Adolf Hitler ransacked the room, disassembling the prized possession in just 36 hours. Today, people debate whether its treasures were destroyed in a bombing, buried in the Ore Mountain mines, or sunk in a Soviet Union submarine, never to be seen again. Whatever the fate, the Amber Room is one of the greatest mysteries in the jewelry world.
With its spiritual properties and enduring quality, Amber is one of the most unique minerals used in jewelry today. The ease in shaping can make Amber a wonderful product for sculptural décor, rings, necklaces, earrings, and bracelets. And with colors emulating the beauty of a sunrise, it’s no wonder we’re crazy for Amber this season.