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Tips 27 Apr 2018

Dominican Amber- adventure and beauty

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Indians, Columbus, Caribbean, mountains, donkey transport and Jurassic Park. It all sounds like a beautiful journey full of adventures. This amazing journey and adventure takes the history of Dominican amber, one of the most beautiful and at the same time the most interesting fossil resin.

     Dominican amber is derived deciduous trees and contains from 0 to 3% succinic acid, so much less than Baltic amber. It comes from oligocene, and thus occurred about 12 million years after Baltic amber, which is the oldest and most traditional mineral, already used in antiquity on a global scale. You will learn more about the history of Baltic amber from our previous articles, which I invite you to read.

     Dominican Amber deposits are found on the island of Haiti, which belongs to Dominican Republic. The mineral is located in the mountains of North and East Cordilleras, at a height of up to around 2000 m. This makes the mining process extremely dangerous and extreme. Therefore, it is often necessary to help animals with amber, which is particularly useful for transporting the extracted amber. For this purpose, donkeys (Corday, Dittrich, 2009, Kosmowska- Ceranowicz, 1985). Dominican amber was known, among others, among the Indians, before Columbus's arrival at the end of the fifteenth century. In Europe, however, it appeared only after the Second World War (Weitschat, 2007).

     After arriving from the highlands, in the valleys and lowlands, Dominican Amber becomes an object of trade and jewelery art. According to artists, but also succinite researchers (amber), the Dominican variety is one of the most attractive. Schlee (1978, for: Kosmowska- Ceranowicz, 1985) gives this variation the footnote "der Uberraschendste", which can be translated as "surprising", "sensational" (Kosmowska- Ceranowicz, 1985).

     It is not without reason that it is very popular because it is very diverse, even in terms of color varieties. Among them, the most common are transparent and also from light yellow to shades of cognac, sometimes also red and green. Primarily valued and sought for species exhibiting intense fluorescence, including the rarest, and thus unusual and charming blue amber, which is an inspiration throughout the world (Kosmowska- Ceranowicz, 2012;[1]). It is distinguished by its unusual color and at the same time it is harder than the others (Linati et al., 2005, Schlee, 1980), usually does not contain any inclusions. It is interesting that through the properties of blue amber, the inclusions contained in it would appear to be crumpled. This indicates a strong diagenetic change (the formation of a rock concise from loose rocks).

     Interestingly, Dominican amber in other colors convinces with large collections of inclusions. Thanks to the unique transparency of Dominican amber, it's easy to see amazing plant and animal specimens, which are an object of fascination for tourists, researchers and artists. Already in the 1980s in Stuttgart, there were over 4500 specimens of this amber with inclusions (Kosmowska- Ceranowicz, 1985). Preserved unusual inclusions in Dominican amber were also a motivation for Stephen Spielberg in the production of the film "Jurassic Park". This famous director went to the Dominican Republic to be able to feelthe nature and beauty of amber at close quarters. The film shows that the amber specimen found with a mosquito covered with dinosaur blood was a great research material, from which a new organism was cloned on the basis of DNA. Unfortunately, there is no scientific confirmation in this field. Nevertheless, after watching this film, amber began to enjoy great popularity among Americans.

     Domican amber is a revolution not only in the jewelery world and amber, but also in a sense made changes in the world of science. Originally, the name "amber" was reserved only for "our" Baltic amber, because it was a mineral from the Eocene period originating from the Baltic Sea region. After 1950, the name Amberwas introduced precisely for Dominican amber, which initiated the philosophy of naming fossil resins with the addition of geographical specialization (Matuszewska, 2009).

Used literature:


  1. Corday A., Dittrich H. (2009). Amber – The Caribbean Approach. InColor, International Colored Gemstone Association, Fall/Winter, s. 1–6

  2. Linati L., Sacchi D., Bellani V., Giulotto E. (2005). The origin of the blue fluorescence in Dominican ambeJ. Appl. Phys.97.

  3. Kosmowska-Ceranowicz B. (1985). Wiek i rozprzestrzenienie żywic kopalnych 
    w Polsce i na świecie oraz największe kolekcje inkluzji organicznych w bursztynie. Wiad. Entomol. t.6, nr 3-4, s.147-157.

  4. Kosmowska-Ceranowicz B. (2012). Bursztyn w Polsce i na świecie. Warszawa: Uniwersytet Warszawski.

  5. Matuszewska, A. (2009). Bursztyn bałtycki i inne żywice kopalne w świetle badań fizykochemicznych. Przegląd Geologiczny, vol. 57, nr 12, s.1078-1083,

  6. Schlee D. (1980). Bernstein-Raritaeten (Farben, Strukturen, Fossilen, Handwerk). – 88 S. (mit 55 Farbtafeln); Staatl. Museum für Naturkunde Stuttgart.

  7. Weitschat W., (2007). Złoża bursztynu w Republice Dominikany i Meksyku. 
    W: Kosmowska-Ceranowicz B., Gierłowski W. (red.), 
    Bursztyn - poglądy, opinie. Materiały z seminariów Amberif 2005-2009. Wyd. Międz. Stow. Bursztynników, Muzeum Ziemi PAN, Międz. Targi Gdańskie SA, Gdańsk - Warszawa, 2010, str. 49-54.

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