When we think of the amber gemstone, we perhaps conjure up a variety of images, some may be of the stereotypical type of amber we have seen presented in small tourist targeted shops and stalls in holiday locations across Europe or it may bring thoughts of mystique, healing powers, then there is of course for some, the images from the film Jurassic Park.
Whatever it means to you, there are those who are truly passionate about this ancient gemstone but for many of us little is known about its unique qualities. So with a passion for all things amber, www.monartti.com have told us about 7 things that we perhaps never knew about amber
Amber is in fact more unique in its form than to the “girl’s best friend” the diamond in fact fossilised tree resin, formed naturally 45 million years ago.
A MEDICAL HISTORY
With its history going back millions years amber has been highly valued by ancient civilizations, especially by Greeks and Romans, for preventing and easing many medical conditions such as an asthma and rheumatism. It was also believed to have magical properties which would bring good luck to its owner.
Rumour has it that due to periodically suffering from kidney stones; Martin Luther King carried a piece of amber with him.
Natural amber actually occurs in a range of sizes, shapes and colour; from white, butterscotch amber which is now one of the most sought after colours by the Chinese and the most expensive especially if the amber stone is large through to all kinds of shades of yellow, orange and brown.
Did you know that amber can be heat treated to enhance its purity and “sun spangles” that are so desirable. This heat treatment is often used to achieve golden green colour that in combination with silver settings to create breathtaking jewels
Other unusual and exceptional colours include red amber – known as “cherry amber” and blue amber, which are rare and highly sought after. The colour and the degree of transparency depend on the size and pattern of trapped bubbles. Experts classify amber based on the degree of amber’s transparency and colour.
THE AROMA OF AMBER
As we consider sourcing a new perfume we may sometimes hear or read about how a specific perfume has a hint of amber as it is quite commonly found in many well known and established scents. However, in fact this is not amber in its true form.
Did you know that in ancient China it was customary to burn amber during large festivities, as when heated under the right conditions, oil of amber is produced; this was then carefully combined with nitric acid to create “artificial musk” – a resin with a peculiar musky odour. Although when burned, amber does give off a characteristic “pinewood” fragrance, modern products, such as perfume, do not normally use actual amber. This is due to the fact that fossilized amber produces very little scent. In perfumery, scents referred to as “amber” are often created and patented to emulate the opulent golden warmth of the fossil.
Celebrating the sophistication and opulence of amber, for Christmas 2008, Sisley created 7000 limited edition bottles of their Eau du Soir, with the specifically designed bottle stopper being created from amber. This particular scent was personally created for one of the founders of Sisley, Countess Isabelle D’Ornano, the daughter of Princess Radziwill, a member of the Polish aristocracy. Although the perfume is still available today, the limited edition bottle remains a collector’s item as amber is regarded as a symbol of European luxury and sophistication.
BEAUTIFUL ROOMS & BESPOKE PIECES
If you have ever been lucky enough to visit St Petersburg you would have no doubt visited the Catherine Palace of Tsarskoye Selo which has a room, known as the Amber Chamber as it is decorated with panels of amber backed with gold leaf and mirrors. Created in the 18th century, this beautiful room and was dubbed the “Eight Wonder of the World” but unfortunately disappeared through looting during World War II. However through a collaboration between Russia and Germany the room was once again recreated to its former beauty and opened in 2003.
In March 2013, the auction house Christies were presented with a Russian Amber Chest Set, which had been attributed to Alexander Krylov in the late 20th Century. This beautiful set was sold for an amazing £12,500 demonstrating again the value and preciousness of amber.
In general, true amber gemstones give the impression of lightness and warmth and a glowing lustre . However with amber increasing in popularity in the Far East and in the USA, with natural amber becoming increasingly more difficult to obtain, especially in the form of bigger stones, which is not only increasing the price of amber but did you know it is also driving a demand for imitations which are being created from glass, plastic, synthetic resins and natural or modified sub-fossil resin, but are being passed off as authentic amber?
Now armed with more knowledge about this very special gemstone, you will now wear your beautiful amber jewellery with a sense of awareness about its versatility, the holistic values and how it has been used since time began.
Images credit: monartti.com