A Writers Guide to Amber

Inclusions in Amber

Inclusions in Amber

Amber is fossilized tree resin and considered an organic gemstone (like pearl and jet). It often contains inclusions such as insects and plants that were trapped in the resin before it hardened. The color is most often yellow or orange but may also be red, green, brown, and blue.

Sap vs Resin: Sap is made up of sugar and water and carried through the xylem and phloem cells of trees. Resin is a liquid found in the outer cells of the trees that ooze out when a tree is cut to cover the area in order to prevent infection.

The word amber comes from the Arabic anbar via Middle Latin ambar and Middle French ambre. In the 14th century, it referred to what is now called ambergris, a solid waxy substance produced in the digestive system of sperm whales. In the late 13th century, amber meant Baltic amber in the Romance languages, first as white or yellow amber. By the early 15th century, amber referred just to the hardened resin as the other meaning faded. The classical names for amber, the resin, were electrum (Latin) and ēlektron (Ancient Greek) meaning beaming sun.

Blue Amber

Blue Amber

Varieties

  • Amberoid also known as Pressed Amber: small pieces of amber fused together to created larger stones.
  • Baltic Amber: amber from the vicinity of the Baltic Sea. Baltic ambers are thought to be from conifers in the Sciadopityaceae family.
  • Blue Amber: a rare coloration found in the amber mines in Santiago, Dominican Republic (occasionally in Mexico and Indonesia). Under artificial light, it looks like ordinary amber, but under sunlight, it has an intense fluorescent blue glow. Under ultraviolet light, it will glow a bright milky-blue. The resin comes from the extinct tree species Hymenaea protera, and the effect has to do with hydrocarbons.
  • Bony Amber: cloudy yet translucent due to the dense inclusions of bubbles.

History

  • Amber beads have been found in prehistoric sites. The oldest amber dates back 320 million years.
  • Roman gladiators used amber for protection and courage.
  • Martin Luther wore a piece of amber in his pocket believing it would protect him from kidney stones.
  • Early physicians prescribed amber for headaches, heart problems, and arthritis.
  • Ground amber was used to treat boils.
  • Amber was also used for teething babies and people with joint pain.
  • Amber was used in perfumes.
  • Amber was used in fertility spells.
  • Yellow Amber

    Yellow Amber

    Amber floats in salt water but sinks in fresh water.

  • Amber is warm against the skin.
  • Burning amber smells like pine.
  • Ancient Chinese burned amber to show their wealth.
  • Modern amber perfumes are created using combinations of labdanum, benzoin resin, copal (a type of tree resin), vanilla, Dammara resin as well as synthetic materials.
  • Amber produces an electrical charge when rubbed.

Lore

  • In Greek mythology, when Phaëton, son of Helios (the sun), was killed, his mourning sisters became poplar trees and their tears became elektron (amber).
  • In Norse mythology, amber was the tears of Freya, shed when Odin wandered the world leaving her behind.
  • In Chinese mythology, amber was soul of the tiger after its death.
  • Asian lore refers to red amber is dragon’s blood.
Baltic amber with plant inclusions

Baltic amber with plant inclusions

Magical and Mystical Properties include

  • improving memory
  • alleviating headaches
  • relieving stress
  • stimulating metabolism
  • easing effects of asthma and allergies (wearing a necklace is best)
  • strengthening the spine
  • purifying the body
  • cleansing the aura
  • absorbing negative energy and transmuting it into positive energy
  • relieving depression and anxiety
  • promoting joy
  • increasing psychic abilities

Discharging & Recharging

Discharge amber by holding it under warm running water. It does not need to be recharged. Do not set it in the sun. The sun pulls moisture from the amber, making it brittle. (In stone therapy, when using stones to heal, their energy is used up, requiring the stones to be recharged.)

This is a reference for fiction writers and should not be taken as medical or spiritual advice.gemstone index

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Updated: October 2, 2017 — 1:54 pm

15 Comments

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  1. Amber also preserved those mosquitoes that led to dinosaurs in Jurassic Park!

    1. So true and we know how that turned out…

  2. Blue amber is really pretty. I didn't know it came in that color.

    1. I didn't either and it's so pretty!

  3. Ooh… now I have to use amber in a story. I think it's so pretty. Except for those pesky mosquitoes Alex mentioned 🙂

  4. Hi Holly – I'd love some blue amber … better start saving! I have some old amber … and love it … it's beautiful to see … great list of properties and healing aspects …cheers Hilary

  5. I tried to tell my friend Amber that she's a waxy digestive substance in sperm whales, but she seemed less than impressed by this dose of knowledge.

  6. It's like a miracle gemstone/resin, with all the positive properties it's supposed to have. Great for fictional uses but…I would LOVE something that strengthens my spine, alleviates my headaches AND promotes joy in my personal life!

  7. Intriguing! I use amber as an eye color, but I guess I really shouldn't be doing that since it can be multiple colors. Whoops.

  8. I love amber. It's so pretty, to me.

  9. Thanks for this interesting post. I am so intrigued by stones and healing.

  10. Hi, Holly,

    I so enjoy your stories on stones…. Amber is lovely. I have several pieces I've acquired over the years and the most beautiful ones from the Dominican Republic that I had visited decades ago… my how time flies…..

  11. I've got some amber here at home. It's fascinating to look at. I've never seen blue amber, though. It's so cool looking!

  12. Thanks for the interesting read about amber. I really like the blue amber variety, especially since it looks like normal amber in artificial light but glows blue in sunlight. I'm really curious to see this in action and to see the amber change color when moved into a different light.

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