Web Links


About Minerals

The Age of Amber

Amber has long been appreciated and traded by the Syrians, Phoenicians, and even the Vikings. The Greeks believed it was solidified sunshine, considered it a precious stone, a jewel, but called it Elektron for its ability to attract bits of material if rubbed on cloth.

Nero, emperor of Rome, sent expeditions to buy Baltic amber, to cut as gemstones or to powder for medicine to treat inflammations and muscle spasms.

Amber is a polymerized compound of hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon and contains varying ratios of succinic acid, several resins and brown volatile oil (amber oil). Polymerization is the process wherein the molecules of sticky resin are linked into larger molecules. This is unlike the fossilization or lithification process of other organic materials.

Amber has a hardness of 2, a specific gravity of of 1 and can be melted at 100° C. It can be cooked down to black colophony, or amber pitch.

Amber varies in color, being found in blue, red, black, green and honey-colored. The trees, Pinus succinifera, producing amber-resin existed through the Miocene Age, but not all amber is the same age. Amber occurs in sedimentary rocks, or is weathered out of them.

* Bavarian - 225 million years years old

* Lebanese - 115 to 135 million years old

* Siberian - 80 to 115 million years old

* British Columbia - 100 million years old

* New Jersey - 90 million years old

* Alaskan - 80 million years old

* Canadian - 70 to 80 million years old

* Arkansas - 60 million years old

* Dominican Republic - 25 to 40 million years old

From many sources - T-Town sources: T-Town Rockbound 10/01, Lapidarian 11/99 and The Benitonite 11/99