Beginner's Guide to Amber Jewellery

Amber is fossilized resin from trees found on Earth anywhere from 30 to 125 million years ago. Do not confuse resin for sap as resin flows under tree bark and protects trees form damage by insects or when it loses a limb during a storm, while sap flows through the centre of the tree and provides nutrients. 

Huge forest covered much of the earth millions of years ago and the resin from these trees flowed down the trunks and in the process, trapped leaves, pollen, dust, and insects. As the years progressed and the trees dies and became buried in the surround dirt, while the resin become fossilized. Eventually the Earth that covered these fossils eroded and amber deposits where exposed. Since amber is a light substance, most of it was washed into the sea and it eventually washed back ashore.

One of the best areas to find sea amber is the Baltic where large quantities of amber washes onshore in countries like Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. This amber is then worked by skilled craftsmen that have possess generations of knowledge in perfecting this craft.

What Colour is Amber Jewellery?

Amber

Amber can be found in a huge variety of colours. The variations of colour are determined by numerous factors including: mineral content in the soil, the type of tree the resin came from, exposure to oxygen during fossilization, and the number of bubbles trapped inside the amber. In fact, it is still up for debate why some of the rarest colours of amber turned out the way they have. As a general rule, almost all amber is clear, but it is the air bubble that are trapped inside of the amber that changes it texture and the ability to allow light to pass through it. This creates an optical illusion of having different “colours”.

Amber can be found to be complexly transparent and almost clear if it doesn’t have any air bubbles, or it can be completely opaque and appear pure white if it has up to 900,000 air bubbles per mm2, with every variation in between.

Natural colours of amber usually range between the palest honey through a deep red brown in the transparent ambers and pure white to deep buttery yellow in the opaque or milky ambers.

Rare Amber Jewellery

Rare Amber

The rarer colours come in both blue and green amber. The blue variety come exclusively from the Dominican Republic. It is extremely rare and valuable because it has a very unique composition which make the amber glow blue in sunlight and phosphorescent under a UV light. For more information about blue amber visit http://blueamber.info/

Green amber also comes from the Dominican Republic, but it isn’t exclusive to that area. It has also been found in the Baltic, but that doesn’t make it any less rare and valuable.

What about Pale Green Amber Jewellery?

Green Amber

Amber comes in a wide range of colours that occur naturally, but for hundreds of years, craftsmen have been treating amber to help bring out the colour and sparkle from within. Pale green is now a common colour in amber and is made by heating the amber, which creates sun spangles, and then backing the amber with a dark paste or silver to refract the light. This process changes the pale yellow colour of amber to green.

Although there is nothing wrong with this procedure, Corazon Latino does not use this kind of treated amber, but decided to work exclusively with the beautiful natural colours that nature has provided. Our pendants are not backed with silver, but instead are suspended in a silver cage so that the colours are created only by the light shining through the amber.

What Are Sun Spangles?

Sun Bangles

Sun spangles are the tiny flat discs that are found in some amber that sparkle when they catch the light. They are rarely found to occur naturally, and are actually created when water droplets get trapped in the amber. When amber is heated, it fractures and as a result creates these sun spangles. This process can be a nice touch for amber jewellery, but it is almost never found naturally.

Is There Anything Wrong with Treated Amber?

Not at all! When amber is heat treated to create sun spangles, it doesn’t devalue the amber in any way. Treating amber is quite common and more popular these days for people looking for more “bling” in their jewellery; however, we have made the choice to only use natural, untreated amber so you won’t see our pendants in vivid green or full of sparkles.

How Can I Spot Fake Amber Jewellery?

Fake Amber

These day there is fake amber being sold in some retail shops. They are generally made up of either plastic or Copal, which is a young resin rather than a fossil. I will get into more detail about how to check to make sure your amber is real in my next blog post.

These days there are some very good “fake” ambers around. Some are plastics; some are Copal which is a young resin rather than a fossil.  I will go into more detail about how to check your amber is true amber in my next blog post. In the meantime, what I can say is all the amber used in our new pendants is true, Baltic amber which washed up on the beach in a small village in Poland where it is collected, polished and worked into our pendants by a craftsman with over 30 years’ experience.


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