Amber is the fossilized resin of trees. Ambers are golden orange in color.
Amber contains insects (flies, frogs, lizards), moss, lichen or pine needles
that were trapped millions of years ago when the resin was still sticky.
"Amber is like a time capsule made and placed in the earth by nature
herself," said David Federman, author of the Consumer Guide to Colored
Gemstones. "It has helped paleontologists reconstruct life on
earth in its primal phases. More than 1,000 extinct species of
insects have been identified in amber." The amber, which was
from the Lower Cretaceous period, was mined in the mountains of
Lebanon south of Beirut by Aftim Acra, who has a collection
of amber pieces containing 700 insects, including termites, moths,
caterpillars, spiders, pseudo scorpions, and midges, which do, after all,
suck their host's blood. The most famous ambers are found in the coast of Poland and the former USSR.
Amber has had a number of medicinal uses attributed to it, but today amber
is exclusively used for jewelry. Amber prices can range from $20 to $40,000
or more. "Stone Age man imbued amber with
supernatural properties and used it to wear and to worship," says Mr.
Federman. "Amber took on great value and significance to, among others, the
Assyrians, Egyptians, Etruscans, Phoenicians and Greeks. It never completely
went out of vogue since the Stone Age. Between 1895 and 1900, one million
kilograms of Baltic amber were produced for jewelry."
Myths on Amber >>