At all times amber has had a fascinating effect on the people. First, because it sticks a million year history to it and secondly, because there is no mineral gemstone, having such a variety of colours and appearances from clear to milky. For many centuries, it was known as the "sun stone" because of its colour and combustibility until they knew one day: it is a type of pine resin (pinus succinifera) or cedar resin (Cedrus atlantica), which was turned to a stone.
Large savannas in contemporary Scandinavia, formerly called Praenoskandien, were demolished by floodwaters. The trees became rotten and the resin was petrified by the high water pressure because of the constant repositioning in the sea far a thousand kilometres away in many million years. In earlier centuries, objects from amber belonged to precious guest gifts of kings and princes. It has remained a popular gem today.
The use of amber stones in jewellery dates back to prehistory times. Ten thousand years ago it was already mentioned, other gems were only mentioned seven thousand years ago. Tacitus reported the fact that there were beautiful stones in the land of the Germans. Amber of different geological ages are known: the oldest is from Lebanon, from the Dominican Republic, and the most beautiful and famous amber, but less suitable for the preparation of jewellery, comes from the Baltic.
The stones for the famous Amber Room were found here. The poet Ovid (43 BC - 17 AD) writes in his epic "Metamorphoses": Already 6oo BC the ancient Greeks acquired, the so-called "Heliadentears".
According to the representation in Greek mythology, Phaeton, the son of the sun god Helios, drove the four-horse sun wagon poorly. He almost caused the downfall of the world and the universe. He rode into the sea. When his sisters mourned his death, their tears turned into amber.
Ambers from the Baltic States are approximately from forty to one hundred and twenty million years old. Stones that are less than a million years old, are called subfossil stones or copals. These usually occur in Africa and the Dominican Republic.
The trees, some with over 15 m in diameter had a large resin flow.
The insects were attracted and trapped by the fragrance of the resin.
Age of Amber
The chemical composition of amber is
Carbon (C), from 73.7 to 78.6%; Hydrogen (H) from 9.45 to 10.5%; Oxygen
(O), from 10.2 to 16.2%. In addition, small amounts of sulphur.
(S) 0,1 - 0,4%. The degree of transparency and the colour depend on the number and arrangement of gas bubbles in the amber.
• Transparent amber contains no gas bubbles.• Opaque milky amber contains about 25,000 gas bubbles per sq mm.• Opaque, white amber has even 900,000 gas bubbles on a sqmm.
Animal inclusions can be:
Ambers that are less than a million years old are called copal. They come mostly from the Dominican Republic and from Africa.
"Helliadentears" were called in Greek mythology the tears of the sisters of Phaeton which they cried by the sea and became ambers, after her brother crashed into the sea with the four-horse "chariot".