What is amber? How is amber formed, where is it found and what is it made of? | earth eclipse (2023)

Amber jewelry is certainly familiar to you. With a pale beige (or often brown) tint, these ornaments have been lauded far and wide for their understated, sophisticated appeal. But have you ever wondered what amber is and how it is formed? Ever wanted to know what it's made of and where to find it? Well, these are some of the many things that we will learn in this article.

Amber is best defined as the fossilized resins of extinct tree trunks.treesThey usually release some form of resin to make their trunks vulnerable to attack from parasites and insects. These resins will also heal any other internal damage, keeping the tree healthy and safe. Over time, the resin develops as aorganic fossilwhich we now call amber. One of the oldest forms of amber is Baltic amber and is over 40 million years old.

Although the most popular types of amber come in a light yellow color, you can also find other variants with a dark brown tint. Some of them even have shades of dark green, dark blue and white. Amber can be both transparent and opaque with small air bubbles inside.

Probably the most valuable form of amber is the one that still contains traces of organic life that got trapped in the tree trunk at some point. Since it is buoyant, it can easily floatwater particles. This is probably why you will find amber on the coasts, especially in Northern Europe. Ambers are most commonly found on shorelines after a massive storm.

during thisstorms, the rough sea almost immediately loosens these resins from the sea interior and carries them to the shore. The rough effects of the sand, the storm and the sea give it a slight sheen.

Some of the most common types of amber are Baltic amber, Mexican amber, Caribbean amber, green amber, copal amber, Burmese amber, blue amber, and black amber. Although yellow or brown are the most common amber colors, this element has more than 200 different shades.

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Table of contents

  • How is amber formed?
  • How old is amber?
  • Where is amber found?
  • What is amber made of?
  • Is amber a mineral?
      • Conclusion

How is amber formed?

As mentioned above, amber is made from the resin of tree trunks. The resin is a semi-solid element that acts as a defense mechanism controlled by the tree's immune system. Every time thatplant or treeIn the presence of a wound (e.g. broken branches), it forms a thick and viscous resin that effectively covers the wound and prevents further damage.

The resin can also be secreted when the tree is attacked by small insects or fungi. Over time, this thick resin will treat and seal the lesion and keep the tree healthy.

As the resin runs down the trunk of the tree, it can trap insects or small plant matter. It eventually solidifies into amber. It is worth noting that not all resins can be turned into amber. This is because amber is most commonly destroyed by inclement weather.

In order to be turned into amber, the resin must be chemically stable so that it does not degrade over the next few years. It must also be impervious to the sun, wind, storm, rain, inclement weather, and insects such as bacteria or parasites.

In addition to being weather resistant, the resin must also need suitable conditions for petrification. Amber can be easily absorbed by sea water in its formation phase, after which it can be submerged deep under the various layers of sediment. This submerged amber will eventually petrify.

In the European Baltics, several glaciers destroyed resinous trees. When buried, the resin from these trees petrified into amber. Wet clay and sand sediments effectively preserve the resin because they do not contain high levels of oxygen. The sediments are then present as rock.

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Sustained pressure and high temperature make the resin look like orange gems. Young or copal amber is formed by the polymerization of molecules. Over time, the heat and high pressure drive off the terpenes, completing the transformation of the amber.

Normally only two resin molds can petrify over time. The first are terpenoids produced by the various gymnosperms (fromconifers) and angiosperms. These resins have ring-shaped structures created by the isoprene units. The next popular form of resin is phenolic resin, which is made from angiosperms. A rare tree called the medullosans is known to produce a third unique type of resin. However, this is rarer.

How old is amber?

The amber found today is more than 30 to 90 million years old. However, no one can determine the total time it takes for the resin to turn into amber. The oldest form of amber dates back to the Upper Carboniferous almost 300 million years ago.

The most popular types of amber come from pine and coniferous trees. However, most amber variants come from species that are now extinct because the resin was formed several million years ago.

Where is amber found?

From Alaska to Madagascar, amber is found in various locations around the world. However, the largest deposits are in the European Baltic States and in Myanmar (formerly known as Burma). Each region serves as a representation of a variable era of our Earth's geology. Perhaps the youngest form of amber is Dominican amber, which has a history of around 16 million to 25 million.

Baltic amber is more than 40 million years old and, like Dominican amber, contains a multitude of tiny flies, ants, insects and lizards. Amber from Burma or Myanmar dates back 100 million years and is probably the oldest amber known to man.

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What is amber made of?

Amber is made from the resins of tree trunks. As the resin gradually drips from the trunk, it traps small insects such as ants, flies, lizards, and a variety of vertebrates and invertebrates. Over time, the resin petrifies and amber is formed.

Is amber a mineral?

No, amber is not a mineral. Because minerals are naturally occurring, homogeneous elements with a precise chemical composition. Its structure is usually crystalline and its origin is completely inorganic. Amber does not meet this parameter, since it is organic in nature and its structure is highly amorphous. Because amber does not have a proper internal atomic arrangement, it cannot be called a mineral.

Amber can best be defined as a gemstone. Amber's specific gravity is extremely low, making it one of the lightest stones on the market. This is also the reason why it floats in the water at a higher density of salt water.


The most popular type of amber, Baltic amber, was already exhausted in the 19th century. However, it is believed that there are still several thousand tons of amber in the Yantarny mines of Kaliningrad. Given our scale of production, the amber in these mines can be mined for more than three centuries. Amber is also mined in Myanmar, with mined variants being sent to museums or sold to jewelry stores.

While amber is still made from tree resins, it can take several million years for the resin to turn into amber. As amber deposits are degraded by mining and trees (which may contain resins) are destroyed instead of being petrified, the availability of raw organic amber will continue to decrease.



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