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by Amanda Applebyinfo@amandaappleby.com

Astounding Amber

Each piece of amber is completely unique and can be millions of years old.

Amber is fossilized tree resin, and it is exuded when there is a cut or an injury to a tree. The semi-liquid matter slowly hardens to stone and it will often trap an object, which is then sealed inside it forever. Pieces of amber can contain a variety of items like leaves, insects, seeds or flowers, and they can vary in colour - from deep brown to virtually transparent lemon yellow. There are rare examples of amber which are actually shades of blue or green!

This organic gemstone has a rather colourful history. Ancient tribes thought it was a sliver of sun that had tumbled down to Earth and so they revered and treasured it, while sailors would burn it to protect their ships from evil. Today, it's used in folk medicine, as a flavour for liquor, in perfume, burnt as incense and many mothers tie amber necklaces around their babies' necks to help soothe teething problems.

Amber is found around the world, but the Baltic Sea is regularly considered to have the best quality amber. This gemstone is loved for its warm colour and the smell it gives off when it's heated, but it is often the item that's trapped inside it that is most alluring and which dictates the value of the stone.

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