With such a long history there is quite a lot to know about amber. Did you know:
- That in Roman times they paid for a small amber amulet than for a healthy slave?
- Once they found a feather of a Theropod dinosaur in amber?
- That they tried to take DNA from this dinosaur out of the amber?
- And this has not yet been achieved?
- That it was customary in ancient China to burn amber at large festivities?
- That the oldest piece of amber 320 million years old is?
- That as many as 1,000 different insects in Baltic amber have been identified?
- That amber smells like coniferous trees when you burn it?
- That amber feels warm on the skin?
Amber and static electricity
By friction amber will get statically charged. This is a unique feature of the stone. This is why the Greeks gave the name ‘electron’ (ηλεκτρον) to amber. That is where our modern word for electricity is derived from. They discovered that the stone attracted pieces of papyrus and feathers after rubbing it with a woollen cloth. they considered this as something magical for a long time. Therefore people assumed that amber contained its own soul.
Blue and yellow amber
The most common colour of Baltic amber is the yellow to orange like honey. So is the amber from the Dominican Republic. Yet you often hear that the Dominican amber is blue in colour. How is this possible? The answer is quite simple because they are both. If you place Dominican amber on a white background, the stone has the ‘normal’ yellow colour. However on a black background it turns blue. This has to do with the way the amber reflects the light. This is not the case for all Dominican amber, but only for a specific kind. We have seen this phenomenon also in some pieces of Indonesian amber. Baltic amber does not exhibit this property, but it does light with a green colour under UV light.
Can’t get enough of facts? Have a look at our amber facts page