I took over this e-zine when Gail, its originator was unable to continue it. With Gail's permission, I have added her original Rock's of the Week so that everyone can find the information readily. Please feel free to visit Gail's web site at http://www.davesrockshop.com


Most people think of amber as a gemstone. It is really an organic gem as it is petrified resin exuded from trees that grew 30 to 60 million years ago. Gems derived from animals or plants are described as "Organic." Other organic gems include jet, coral, pearls and shells.

Amber comes translucent or opaque, with colors ranging from milky to red, brown, gold or even black, blue, or green. Each piece of amber is unique. As the resin hardened, it trapped bits of forest debris, lichens and insects. Boiling it in oil can clear opaque amber. To tell the difference between real and fake amber, stick the piece of amber with a hot needle in an inconspicuous place. The fumes produced will either smell like pine resin or melting plastic. Reconstituted amber will tend to be perfectly clear or swirly. It will not have the natural occurrences in it that real amber has. 

From the private collection of M. Schneider.
Amber is light in weight and warm to the touch. Amber is only slightly denser than seawater and large lumps can be carried across the sea. Amber is known to carry an electrical charge. The word "Electricity" is derived from the Greek name for amber, (elektron).

Amber burns with a sweet smell and has been used as incense. Young amber, copal, is 10 million years old and found primarily in Africa. Amber as we know it is at least 30 million years old and found primarily in the Baltic region, Dominican Republic, and Mexico. (The movie Jurassic Park, was incorrect because the amber they used was approx 35 million yrs old and the dinosaurs they used were approx 60 -100 million years old.)

Hardness: 2 - 4 Very soft, easy to carve or melt.
Chemical Symbol: Approximately C10H16O; Succinic acid

(Many people don't know to avoid amber contact with perfumes, hair spray and cosmetics. Warm water and soap is the way to clean amber.)

The use of amber has been documented for at least four thousand years. Amber beads have been found in ancient graves dating back to two thousand B.C. Amber was believed to have talismanic properties and many ancient peoples buried amber objects and amulets with their dead to protect them in the afterlife and insure their immortality. Sacred to the Greek God Apollo, amber was once thought to be congealed sunlight. Amber was also viewed as tears by the Vikings, Freya's tears for Svipdag, and for the ancient Greeks, tears over the death of Phaeton. In some cultures amber was thought to be the solidified urine of the lynx. Some believe amber to be the tears that birds shed at learning of the death of Jesus. Amber has been hung on shields and fortresses because of its legendary protective qualities.

Historically, it has been thought to have medicinal properties, and is said to cure fevers, jaundice, deafness, blindness and other disabilities. A general prophylactic against diseases of the throat and belly and prevents poisoning. Now get this: sitting over the smoke of burning amber was said to cure hemorrhoids. Ouch! Even as late as the 20th century, amber was believed to cure sore throats and dissolve glandular swelling of the neck. Many Europeans still believe that wearing an amber necklace can cure goiters. When amber was too scarce to use in rosary beads the church encouraged physicians to use amber as a medicine. Though it has been said to cure depression and stop suicidal tendencies, the real beauty in amber is its antiquity in relation to mans short time on earth.

Amber represents attunement to nature and an intellectual understanding of the mystery of life. It is purported to balance the body's chi energy flow and guides the healing process. It attracts the elements of nature to us. Amber is said to promote physical vitality. It has a protective quality and is deemed to be the bearer of good fortune. It offers strength, wealth, and fortitude, helping one to realize ones own potential. Amber helps one understand what is to be learned from the earth school and helps one to absorb the meaning of meditation and ritual. Amber is said to be good for opening up the chakras.

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