mardi 6 novembre 2012

vendredi 2 novembre 2012

mercredi 17 octobre 2012

Amber Regina coupon, October 2012

Get 15% off on Baltic amber jewelry orders over $100 till the end of October!
Voucher: amberoctober

Baltic Amber butterscotch bracelet

For coupons and promotions follow us on Facebook

dimanche 14 octobre 2012

How Is Amber Produced?

Several factors affect the production of amber from resin, a process known as amberization. Once the resin is exuded it hardens. Resin contains liquids such as oils, acids and alcohols, including the aromatic compounds that produce the distinctive resinous smell – two examples of highly aromatic resins are frankincense and myrrh. Scientists call these liquids volatiles and they dissipate and evaporate from the resin. The resin then undergoes a process known as polymerization, whereby the organic molecules join to form much larger ones called polymers. Hardened resin is known as copal. Copal becomes incorporated into soil and sediments where it remains long after the tree dies. It continues to polymerize and lose volatiles until the resultant amber is completely polymerized, has no volatiles and is inert.

Frankincense tree

Many scientists thought that time was important in the fossilization of resin to produce amber, and the amberization process was estimated as taking between 2 and 10 million years. However, it now appears that many more factors are involved. Most amber in deposits around the world was not formed where it is found – the copal or amber has been eroded from the soil, transported by rivers and deposited elsewhere. For instance, amber from Borneo is 12 million years old and comes from sand and clay sediments that were deposited in a deep ocean. The fossilized resin from Borneo that comes from beds of sandstone is completely inert and undoubtedly amber. However, resin that comes from beds of clay still contains volatile components, which means that it is still copal. So, the type of sediment in which the resin is deposited is much more important than time for amber formation. But what is not so clear is the effect of water and sediment chemistry on the resin.

Resin oozing from under the bark of a cedar tree, where a branch has been sawn off

From Amber: The Natural Time Capsule
By Andrew Ross

dimanche 30 septembre 2012

Today is the last day of free shipping for all orders from Amber Regina
Use the coupon shipping55 at checkout

Follow us of Facebook for future deals and promotions!

Amber : Talismanic, Amuletic and Folk Medicine

Since time immemorial, amber has been worn as an amulet in the Baltic as well as the Mediterranean cultures. The people of these cultures believed amber was especially beneficial for protecting infants from the croup when worn as a necklace in the form of an amulet. As a charm, amber was believed to ward of fits, dysentery and nervous afflictions. As early as Pliny’s time, farmers wives in areas where the “water had properties that would harm the throat”, or was deficient in iodine, wore raw amber beads around their necks as a remedy against swellings (goiter).

raw baltic amber butterscotch beads

The lore attributing guardian values to amber has lasted into the 20th century. During the late 1960s, for example, an authority announced the virtues of wearing amber beads around the throat to protect it from diseases. It was believed that the strong electrical properties of amber resulted in an electrical band forming around the throat and bringing into existence a protective power. Even today, in many of the peasant areas of the Baltic, amber earrings and necklaces are worn when one has a headache or a throat ailment.

Amber is thought to possess other unusual curative powers. In ancient times, amber was powdered and mixed with honey and oil-of-roses for curing ear troubles. When mixed with honey from Attica, it was a cure for dimming eyesight. The powder was taken internally as a remedy of diseases of the stomach, whereas the amber oil was prescribed for internal administrations of asthma and whooping cough. Simply holding a ball of amber in the hands not only kept one cool during the hottest days of summer, but would reduce the temperature of a person from fever.

yellow lemon amber nugget

Many prescriptions were written which included amber along with other gemstones. An old meteria medica lists 200 medicinal stones. A dose suggested for heart disease contained white amber, red coral, crab’s eyes, powdered hartshorn, pearls and black crab’s claws. Such a mixture was the prized Oriental Bezoar, prescribed for different ailments.

Amber was also used externally as a fumigation to cure other ailments, including tonsillitis, catarrh, or running nose and eyes. It was thought that the smell of burned amber helped women in labor. In the Orient, amber fumigation was accomplished by throwing powdered amber on a hot brick. The fumes would strengthen the individual and give him courage from the soul of the tiger, a beast second in importance only to the dragon in Chinese mythology. “Syrup of amber”, a mixture of liquid acid-of-amber and opium, was also used in China as a sedative, anodyne and antispasmodic drug. Powdered amber and oil-of-amber were prescribed as powerful diuretics.

powdered Baltic amber

A piece of amber placed on the nose was thought to stop excessive bleeding. It is perhaps this belief in the special blood-stilling or coagulating properties of amber that explains the use of an amber handle on the ritual Jewish circumcision knife of the 18th century. During the early 1900’s, as medical practices advanced, vessels made of compressed amber were used during blood transfusion. The amber, being a poor conductor of heat, kept a more constant blood temperature for a longer period of time that did glass or stone vessels, and thus the blood was kept from coagulating.

The persistent belief that amber not only prevented infections, but acted as a charm against them, was the reason amber retained its popularity into the late 1800s and early 1900s, especially in the smoking articles industry. Its employment as a mouthpiece for cigars, cigarettes and pipes was originally talismanic. Amber was used in the Middle East for the mouthpieces of hookahs with their many hoses because of the gemstone’s supposed germicidal effect. 

Butz-Choquin Brumaire pipe in amber

dimanche 1 avril 2012

What is Amber?

Amber is one of a few gemstones of organic, rather than mineral, origin. Essentially, amber is a fossilized resin from prehistoric evergreens or other now-extinct species of resin-producing trees which flourished in large forests 40-60 million years ago.

As the resin flowed downward, it occasionally entrapped insects and plant species, and eventually accumulated in masses of various sizes and shapes that later became buried in the soil below the trees. Extreme conditions, such as pressure by glacier covering, severe climatic changes and submersion of the resin under salt water, took place over million of years, causing the process of oxidization. The volatile compounds which imparted “stickiness” to the resin escaped so slowly the resin was prevented from cracking into numerous minute fragments as a result of the shrinkage. During the lengthy time underground, molecules were forced to polymerize; that is, to rearrange themselves. This caused a metamorphosis from a tacky resin to a solid, forming a compound with greater stability and hardness than the original substance, and similar in appearance to plastic (in no way is amber identical – chemically or otherwise – to plastic, though plastic often masquerades as amber to the unsuspecting public).

Rough or “block” amber is commonly found in irregular lumps or rounded nodules, also in grains, drops and stalactitic masses. Pieces are generally small weighing up about 200 grams, although considerably larger masses have been found.

Amber is commonly yellow to honey-colored, but its hues range from white to light yellow (butterscotch) to reddish brown and green. Sometimes it is so pale that seems colorless. Approximately 250 different color varieties are known. In addition to variations of color, amber can be absolutely transparent or completely opaque. 

When chips of amber are burnt, a smoke with pleasant resinous odour of pine is emitted, and for this reason amber was burnt as incense in temples in the Far East. If a lump of amber is rubbed vigorously, it produces enough negative static electrical charge to pick up small particles of tissue paper. The word electricity was actually derived from electron, the Greek name for amber. Unlike other minerals gemstones, amber is warm to the touch, since it is a poor conductor of heat.

Amber is water-insoluble tree resin which has attained a stable state after various changes due to loss of volatile constituents, processes such as oxidization and polymerization, and lengthy burial in the ground. The botanist is not concerned with the length of time to reach this state. It may take a year, thousands years, million years or more. The geologist considers amber to be a fossil tree resin, “fossil” meaning evidence of prehistoric life. The resin, then, must have been excluded from the tree at least before recorded history. The purist places even more restrictions up on the term amber. For him “true amber” is the fossil resin containing as much as 3% to 8% succinic acid (hence known as succinite) and coming from trees which flourished along shores of the Baltic Sea as long ago as 60 million years.

Gem-dealers and jewellers obviously are purists, since one pays the highest price for Baltic Amber. The geologist works to establish the age of the deposits in which the amber is found. The geologist works to establish the age of the deposits in which the amber is found. He also attempts to characterize the amber by its physical and chemical properties, and leans heavily upon aid from organic chemists to accomplish this. The botanist, naturally, is interested chiefly in the botanical sources of amber.

Patty C. Rice, Ph.D.