Amber of Barnsteen: Het Gouden Geschenk van de Natuur

Amber or Amber: Nature's Golden Gift

What Exactly Is Amber or Amber and How Is It Formed?

    Amber and NOT ambergris. The term "amber" can indeed refer to two very different substances. Amber, or amber as it is often called in Dutch, is fossilized resin that comes from coniferous trees and can be approximately 40 to 60 million years old. This resin has hardened over the centuries and inclusions such as insects are often found in it.

    In contrast, ambergris refers to a waxy substance produced in the intestines of sperm whales and can be found floating in tropical seas or washed up on beaches. Ambergris was historically valued as an ingredient in perfume and medicine because of its unique scent and properties.

    These two are sometimes confused due to their namesake English term "amber", but they are entirely different in both origin and composition. It is important to make this distinction, especially in the context of jewelry and collections, where amber is a commonly used material, while ambergris is a rare and precious substance used in perfumery.

    So amber is actually fossilized tree resin that has been chemically changed by burial in the ground. This process takes place over millions of years. The resin is initially secreted as a defense mechanism by trees, usually conifers, when injured or stressed. Over time, this resin can trap insects, plant debris and air bubbles. After burial under sediments, the resin undergoes a series of chemical changes known as diagenesis, during which volatile components evaporate and complex organic compounds form a solid substance. This substance then fossilizes into amber through further hardening and crystallization.

    1. Why the name Amber? The Greek name for amber, "electron", is the origin of the words electron and electricity. This is because amber can become electrically charged through friction and then attract light objects such as dried grass. This phenomenon has undoubtedly contributed to the mystical allure of amber throughout history.​ It is often transparent to translucent and can have different colors ranging from light yellow to dark red, depending on the conditions under which it was formed. An interesting feature of amber is its possible inclusion of ancient organisms such as insects, giving us a unique glimpse into life millions of years ago.
    2. How Was Amber Historically and Culturally Valued? Amber has long been associated with sun and protection. Many cultures viewed amber jewelry as powerful talismans to ward off negative energies and prevent physical or emotional harm. It was also used as an amulet against diseases and placed at children's funerals as protection in the afterlife. In medicine, it was used to treat conditions such as sore throats and mental illness and even mixed with rose oil and honey to treat eye and ear infections.
    3. Amber in Greek and Roman Culture : The Greeks and Romans used amber in jewelry and works of art. The Greeks called it electron, referring to the Sun God, while the Romans used it as a symbol of status and power. Furthermore, Pliny the Elder noted that amber in liquid form must have trapped insects, indicating an early recognition of amber's origins.
    4. Amber in Asian Cultures : In Asia, amber is seen as spiritually significant, connected to the life force of trees. It is considered a representative of courage in China, where it was also burned during important festivals to produce oil
    5. The Amber Room : One of the most spectacular uses of amber was the Amber Room in Catherine the Great's Russian palace, often described as the 'eighth wonder of the world'. It was a beautiful example of Baroque art, rich in artistry and craftsmanship. Although the original artwork was destroyed during World War II, its reconstruction remains a symbol of the splendor of amber.
    6. Amber and Healing :

      Long before modern medicine, there was Amber containing succinic acid, with properties that predated the use of antibiotics in medicine. This precious gift of resin, transformed by time, was seen as a remedy for all kinds of physical discomforts. Ancient healers saw in its golden glow the key to alleviating ailments such as heart problems and arthritis, and even the painful processes of teething in babies. It is an echo of a time when the connection between people and nature formed the basis for health and well-being.

    7. Locations:

      In a world where time has captured itself in resin, amber tells a story as old as the forests themselves. The Baltic region, an area shaped over the centuries by the influences of Poland, Russia and the Baltic states, is home to the largest amber deposits in the world. Here, amber, known for its unparalleled quality, is still extracted by hand and transformed into jewelry that captures the essence of nature.

      These riches extend across the ocean to the Dominican Republic, where amber deposits produce jewels as clear as Caribbean waters. Further east, in the hidden corners of Myanmar, one finds amber that enchants collectors and artists with its unique play of colors.

      Although Indonesia is also home to amber, the pieces it produces tell a different story. They are robust and grand, but it is considered low-quality amber and almost never produces insect inclusions, making it less desirable. Each piece of amber contributes to the mosaic of stories about the Earth, its past and the natural beauty it leaves behind for us to cherish.

    8. What Should One Pay Attention To When Choosing Quality Amber Jewelry? When choosing amber jewelry, it is important to pay attention to the color, clarity, and the presence of inclusions. Real amber floats in saltwater, which is a simple test to determine authenticity. In addition, the color variations and natural patterns are indicative of good quality amber. Although the most common color of amber is yellow, it can also be found in honey brown, reddish brown and even black. The rarest colors of amber, blue and green, are usually only found in the Dominican Republic.
    9. How Can One Stylishly Integrate Amber Jewelry into Daily or Special Outfits? Amber jewelry, with its warm tones and natural appearance, can add a unique touch to both casual and formal outfits. They can be combined well with both neutral and bright colors and add a timeless elegance to any look.

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    sources: minedat and wikipêdia

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