Amber Earrings

Amber in Amber Earrings
Amber jewelry is unique among gemstone jewelry in that amber was not originally a stone, but rather prehistoric sap.  Millions of years ago the sap seeped from the trees and over time was fossilized into the hardened stone we know today.  Although the term amber is synonymous with the soft yellow shade that the stone is known for, amber stones can actually be brown, black, green, blue or even reddish.

Uses of Amber
Throughout history people have used amber to make decorative objects, such as bottles, bowls, figurines and jewelry. There was even a room with walls made entirely from amber in the Catherine Palace of Russia’s Tsars.  It was lost during World War II and has never been recovered, though a replica was made so that today’s visitors can see how it looked.

Objects in Amber
Amber frequently contains objects that were trapped in the sap before it hardened. These might include things like pine needles, flowers, bees or flies.  These have been helpful in giving scientists and interested laymen a sort of window into the past, to see what kind of plant and insect life existed in the prehistoric times.  These objects are called inclusions, and amber with inclusions is frequently used to make amber earrings and other jewelry.

Amber Mining
Amber hails from spots all over the globe, including places like Burma, Italy, Romania and the Dominican Republic, where much of the amber with inclusions is found.  However, the lion’s share of the amber on the market today is mined in the Baltic Sea area. There was a time when lucky people would find this desirable substance washed up on the shores of the Baltic Sea, but today it is mined.

Amber in Earrings
Jewelers preparing amber to be set in earrings will cut it to the desired size and shape and then polish it to give it a bit of sparkle and shine.  If there are inclusions, a good jeweler will make sure that they are displayed attractively before setting the stone. When buying amber earrings, look for pieces without bubbles in the amber, and buy only from reputable dealers since convincing glass and plastic imitations abound.

Amber Hardness and Care
On the Mohs scale, which is used to measure the hardness of gems, amber comes in at around 2 or 2.5.  Diamond, the hardest gem, is at 10, so that tells us that amber is one of the softest stones used in jewelry.  Because of this, owners of amber earrings should take special care not to scratch or otherwise damage the amber.  Keep the earrings away from harsh chemicals and detergents. Remove them before showering, and don’t spray hairspray, gel or other hair products on them.  Make sure that they’re stored in a soft cloth, so that the posts, prongs and stones of other jewelry in your jewelry box do not harm the amber.

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