Why is blue amber blue? Or is it?

Why is blue amber blue? Or is it?

 

Is Blue Amber truly blue? No. It is not. And yet, it is. Confused? We know that it is a result of fluorescence and no solid color. Ultra-violet or violet light is re-emitted as blue or green light attributed to the presence of poly-nuclear aromatic molecules. (Gemology, Cornelius S. Hurlbut, Jr., Robert C. Kammerling – see also our article on aromatic molecules in our Blue Amber Blog)

 

 

Blue amber is blue, but not the way you might think. Please look at the pictures below.

blue amber cabochons on blackblue amber cabochons on white

You see the same blue amber cabochons. When sunlight strikes the Blue Amber on a white surface the light particles pass right through and are refracted by the white surface. Result: the Blue amber looks almost like any other Dominican amber, only with a slight blue hue. But on the other picture, the light particles can’t refract off the black surface, so it is the Amber that refracts. The hydrocarbons in the Blue Amber turn the sun’s ultraviolet light into blue light particles. The result: the famous blue glow of Blue Amber. A similar reaction you will find in the green Dominican amber. Other Dominican amber will show this refraction only in concentrated UV light, but not in natural light. All pictures have been taken with a regular digital camera in the shade of our verandah, without any artificial light. Fascinating, isn’t it?

Find more information on our page: http://www.blueamber.info.

 

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Amber History

Amber History
Amber Properties
schlaube1Amber (succinite / retinite) is a fossil resin. The resin flowed out the bark, probably after previous injury, dried up and hardened. There is different flow forms like e.g. drops, mass flows and “drop-on-drop-flow” called “shlaubs” (Schlauben). The later has more fossil inclusions, because it resulted from thrust-wise resin flow. The sticky surface caught the animals and the next resin flow covered them. According to scientist, the oldest well-known amber originates from the carbon time and has an age of approximately 345 million years (Upper Carboniferous) The oldest know amber containing insects comes from the Lower Cretaceous (approx. 146 million years ago).Baltic amber and Dominican amber are “young”, compared with it. The resins of these areas have extruded from trees(during the tertiary age (25-50 million years).Copal is a much younger resin which also is found in many places like Colombia and the Dominican Republic, but its behavior is different from that of the “genuine” (old) amber. Baltic amber is found at the coasts of the east and North Sea andin the SAM countries’ “blue earth”. It originated in the old Tertiary period approx. 40-50 million years ago in the area what today would be Sweden and Finland.In the Baltic resin supplier was pinus succinifera, and/or other conifers of the Araucaria Family (Araucariaceae). The amber-resin producing trees of the Caribbean areawere the algarroba species.
Leaf, Seeds and Flowers
Leaf in amber

Leaf in amber

Amber can be found on all continents of the earth, with exception of the pole regions, mainly at the east coast of the USA, Canada, Burma, Mexico, Lebanon, Borneo, Romania and Sicily and other places. But most of these these offer by far a smaller yield than the Baltic region and the Dominican Republic. Therefore, most of the amber which is used in the commercial production of jewellery comes from the Baltic region or the Dominican republic. The Baltic area has the most productive and widely known occurrence in Europe.

Amber Origins & Mining
The amber occurrences in the Dominican Republic is not as old as the Baltic, but has much more fossil inclusions of plants and small animals and for this reason is highly appreciated by scientists and collectors alike. At few places in the Dominican Republic a kind of amber can be found that has a blue glow even in daylight. UV light strengthens this effect.Amber is considered a gem stone. Amber has been traded since earliest times and was considered a mystic and religious material. Over the “amber routes” it was distributed throughout Europe and all of the know ancient world. Already the Phoenicians traded amber as a prime commodity with the ancient Baltic peoples. Since about 3000 B.C., Baltic amber was exchanged for goods from southern Europe and there were even ‘highways’ or trade routes crossing Europe and leading into the Far East.In Central America, the Olmec civilization also was mining amber around 3000 B.C.Olmec AmberThere are legends in Mexico that mention the use of amber in adorning, consuming and using it for stress reduction as a natural remedy.For thousands of years amber was regarded as a precious substance, and for its mysterious origin considered as a divine protection from harm to the bearer of amber jewelry. As such, it also became to be used as an ingredient in medicines and for religious purposes by “pagans” and “Christians”. Around 58 A.D., the Roman Emperor Nero sent a Roman knight on a search for this “Gold of the North” and brought hundreds of pounds of amber to Rome.In later days, from 1283 on, the Teutonic Knights, after returning from the crusades, became absolute rulers of Prussia and the Baltic sources of amber, as well as the manufacture of objects made of amber, punishing transgressors with death by hanging. For the next 500 years, ambar was used again for mainly a religiouspurpose: Rosary beads, used by Catholics and Moslems alike.

Columbus AmberWhen they arrived in 1492 at the Caribbean island of “La Hispaniola”, Columbus and his men were not interested in amber, but in gold and for this reason the existence of amber from the Dominican Republic was little knownfor a long time. But history tells us that Columbus received from a young Taino prince apair of shoes decorated with Caribbean amber, in exchange for a strand of Baltic amber beads that he had offered.

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