About

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Amber is an organic stone from coagulated resin of conifers covering the area of Northern and Central Europe of today. The age of the amber lumps occurring on the terrains of Poland is estimated to be about 40–60 million years. In spite of numerous processes that resin underwent while turning into amber, it still remains in the stadium of oxidization and polymerization. Since this process still goes on, amber is constantly changing and one can assume that it is a “living” stone.

Natural colors of amber are light yellow or honey. It is the color that plausibly fresh resin had. Darker colors of other varieties of amber are results of oxidization. Frequently amber lumps are dark brown on the outside and light inside.
The outer surface, known as a bark (rough and cracked), is created as a result of partial crystallization caused by a loss of water. White and non-transparent varieties of amber are called foamy. Both their color and their name are derived from the stone being structured like foam. Its color and degree of transparence depend on the size and number of air bubbles contained in it.
For thousands of years this extraordinary stone has enjoyed human interest. It has been used in craftsmanship and art. People also believed in its magical and healing properties. Our forebears were interested in amber and used it for their own needs as early as 13,000 years BC. From that period simple amber drawings of predators and wild horses derive. Found in Germany and Poland, they are now deemed the oldest.

Amber has for centuries been used in the jewelry industry. It is a material that is easy to shape, therefore, it is eagerly and frequently used to produce beautiful necklaces, rings, earrings. It has a lot of varieties. It is difficult to find two lumps that would not differ at all, which gives enormous opportunities to amber craftsmen. They can use amber to compose resplendent jewelry. The more interesting amber is placed in it, the more valuable it will be.
For centuries miraculous healing properties of Polish amber have been known. Wearing rings, necklaces, pendants, brooches, button badges, earrings with beads of amber helps for a badly working thyroid, sore throat, problems with bronchial tubes. Drinking amber liqueur will make us forget about worrisome digestive problems. Ointments, creams and other pharmaceuticals produced on the basis of amber acid, which has strong antitoxic and anti-inflammatory effects, will sooth insect bites, aid healing burns and more. Joss sticks of amber will eliminate substances and microorganism ruining our precious health from the air.

History

The history of amber is shrouded in mystery. Until today some facts connected with its creation have not been explained. Baltic amber, called succinite, is fossil resin created about 40–60 million years ago. Since that time it has undergone processes of hardening and weathering, which contributed to its exceptional charm. However, it still remains unknown what tree exuded this specific kind of resin. It has not been explained why those trees tapped so intensely, either.

The ancients were convinced that the amber bearing trees were willows (or poplars), cedars or pines. Studies by German botanists from the 19th century have shown that the “mothers” of amber were long extinct so-called amber bearing pines (Pinus succinifera). Amber was created in the subtropical climate, where pines do not grow. Therefore, there are speculations that the amber bearing plant could have been a tree similar to an acacia. As for tapping of those trees, there are at least a few hypotheses. It could have been caused by a sudden climate warming, volcanic processes, tree diseases or presence of pests. It could have also been a natural process in the trees’ lifetime growth
In the period when amber was created in the area of contemporary Scandinavia there was a land called Fenno-Sarmatia and in the area of today’s Europe there was the Tethys Ocean. From Fenno-Sarmatia resin was transported by the Eridan river and it precipitated in its delta, where now Gdańsk Bay (Poland) is. It is in those areas that the largest deposits of amber are. They were uncovered and rinsed by rivers flowing under a glacier about a million years ago.
The terrains of Fenno-Sarmatia were covered by Eocene amber forest. It was a mixed forest, presumably a pine and oak one, with a resin bearing pine, Pinus succinifera. Here and there magnolias, sequoias and cinnamon trees grew. Thujas and cypresses were also numerous, and in the undergrowth there were grasses, mosses and ferns. The background was presumably very dank, otherwise liquid resin flowing from the trees would seep into the ground.

The beginnings

The oldest grinded and polished amber plates have been found on Wysoczyzna Leszczyńska. They are estimated to be Paleolithic (40000–10000 BC), that is from the twilight of the Ice Age. Thus, amber has been present in human life since the pre-beginnings of their presence on the Earth.
In Poland the most amber workshops were in the area of Gdańsk and Kurpie. Amber was used to produce secretaires, boxes, figures, mosaics. It was fashionable in entire Europe. In Italy as early as in the 2nd century BC famous amber workshops were active.

Baltic Amber