Amber Scientific Properties

April 12, 2014

Mohs Hardness of 2.5 with a amorphous crystal structure.

 

Amber is not actually a stone, but the fossilized resin (sap) of extinct coniferous (cone bearing) trees. Most of all amber is golden yellow to golden orange, but there have been specimens discovered in green, red, violet and black as well. An “Ambroid” is a material/stone formed by heating and pressing together several smaller pieces of amber to create a mass large enough to be useful.

Almost always transparent, but at minimum translucent Amber is often found in smaller, irregularly shaped nodules or masses; and can contain small insects or plant specimens that had been trapped millions of years ago while the resin was still in a sticky state.  When found ‘cloudy’ it is usually due to air being trapped in much the same manner in which the insects were, but are often heated in oil which is known to clear up the cloudiness.

Amber is one of the few “stones” that can be charged with electricity. When rubbed, amber produces a negative electrical charge – such as that which attracts dust.  True Amber will float when placed in a solution saturated with salt; imitation amber will sink to the bottom.

The world of gemologists divide amber into specific groups, which include:

  • Succinite (Baltic Amber)
  • Burmite (Burmese Amber)
  • Simetite (Sicilian Amber)
  • Rumanite (Rumanian Amber)

The last three are the rarer forms and sources of this golden substance.