Amber Rough Mineral Specimen
HISTORY, NAME, LOCALITIES: Amber, pronounced AM-burr, has been known since antiquity. It is a fossilized tree resin with a brownish-yellow color that serves as a gemstone. Amber is collected in Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Myanmar, Romania, China, and the United States (New Jersey).
MINERALOGY, PROPERTIES, OCCURRENCE: Amber is an oxygenated hydrocarbon of variable composition with an amorphous structure. Technically, it is classified as an organic nonmineral—a natural, organic substance that satisfies neither the definition of a mineral nor that of a mineraloid. It consists roughly of 80 percent carbon, 10 percent oxygen, and 9 percent hydrogen, along with small amounts of other elements such as sulfur and phosphorus. Amber forms when newly exuded, soft, tacky resin loses its volatile terpenes and its less-volatile terpenes slowly polymerize. Amber then forms after burial in an anaerobic environment and subsequent fossilization. Amber has a Mohs hardness of 2.0-2.5 and a specific gravity of about 1.2. It is translucent to transparent, with colors that range mainly from dark brown to pale yellow, but which also occasionally include orange, pink, white, and green.
METAPHYSICAL PROPERTIES, LORE, USES: Amber has served as a gemstone since antiquity. According to metaphysical lore, amber is a healing “stone” that promotes health, balances emotions, releases negative energy, enhances feelings of self-worth, and aids in recalling memories and past-life experiences.
COLLECTORS’ INFORMATION: Amber, arguably the most beautiful of all fossils, is widely collected for its range of colors and transparencies, and for its frequently included insect fossils.