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Facts and myths- amber colour, what?
Amber is the source of many mysteries and curiosities, concealing the history of our planet, which is why many myths and stereotypes surround this mineral. A special interest in the ore results not only from its history but also from its unique appearance, including its uniquecolour. For centuries fascinated collectors and enjoys the eyes enthusiasts around the world. Also vivid reactions and interest in the diverse palette of the collection and history of our museum, served as a source of inspiration to create a series of articles on the facts and myths of the amber world.
In this publication I will try to explore the secrets of the diversified colour of this popular raw material, which causes such a great admiration and fascination of the guests of our museum.
Amber colour- but what is the color? I often hear that light brown, reddish, orange. The latter may, however, be more like a tea colour, which corresponds to the cognac amber. Light- yellow, sunny, which sometimes takes on a more yellow- white colour, is also well- known. Then we are dealing with milk amber. Difficulty in assessing and precisely defining the colours of amber results from the variety of this raw material. This stone can take on such colours as: cherry, green, or blue and have different physical and chemical properties. Among these minerals can be found various stones of different transparency, different diameter of gas bubbles embedded in them, or varied degree of weathering. Regardless of whether they are naturally shaped or expressing the modernity and craftsmanship of the artist modifying this mineral, they are a kind of unique and rare.
To discuss main colour verieties of amber, it should be noted that the most common, and at the same time popular, colour of Baltic amber is the cognac shade. It is a natural colour that in the ancient times was the dominant that distinguishes this raw material from other minerals. However, it can be regularly varied by artists. Today, cognac amber is often embellished with characteristic "scales". Currently, they are so common that they testify to the authenticity of the mineral and Baltic descent. Scalesare obtained in an "autoclave" during the heating process in the presence of gas. After a while, the hot amber begins to crack, which will result scales inside.
The natural shade is also the natural shade. It occurs practically in the whole range of tones- from white to yellow. The colour results from differences in the internal ctructure of the mineral. Generally speaking, amber can appear in a transparent and opaque structure, which is determined by the presence of gas bubbles and their quantity. The transparent form is characterized by a lack od bubbles structure. Among the representatives of this variety, we find the so- called "Trinket", honey amber, possibly with "cloud". Opaque variants, on the other hand, are characterized by the presence of gas bubbles in the structure. Those with more bubbles, about 900000 bubbles per 1mm2 of amber, are white. The internal structure of such a stone is obtained by the nature of foam, which creates a natural milk colour, while it is still quite transparent and unrampered. With a number of 25000 bubbles on the surface od 1mm2, an opaque yellow amber is formed.
Few people know that some varieties of amber, such as: Dominican amber mined on the island of Haiti, have a blue colour. This natural variety of amber is known for its "role" in the film "Jurassic Park". An interesting fact is that despite the uniqueness of its colour, this amber is completely natural. The mining difficulties make it less accessible and therefore more attractive and desirable on the market of precious stones. An unusual and type of ore is green amber. The minerals in this colour can be both natural and created by man. The natural green shade is the result of contamination of the mineral with a plant detritus, called natural amber. There are numerous gas bubbles formed during the process of putrefaction of plants, and the colour is earthy and greenish. Green ambers may be the effect of the artist's modification.
Red/ cherry reds are modified minerals, similarly black variety. They are obtained in an "autoclave" under the influence of high temperature and pressure in the presence of inhibitors.
All kinds of amber, from the most popular cognac and dairy to less obvious green, cherry or black are natural amber. Some of their varieties have been subjected to human action. However, the basis of each mentioned amber is a resin from several thousand years ago, which can be subjected to a larger or smaller treatment. A polished, polished or cut amber which,by treatment, changes its colour, is called modified amber.
Colour changes or the creation of scales require the artistry of the artist and a lot of experience, often associated with the loss of kilograms of minerals for science. This dedication, however, brings the artist great satisfaction, and at the same joy the customers receiving a unique product.
We cordially invite you to our Borunia and Amber Museum galleries in Cracow, where specialists will present you with a collection of outstanding European amber jewelery, bringing you closer to the palette of amber colors!
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;). 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).
Corday A., Dittrich H. (2009). Amber – The Caribbean Approach. InColor, International Colored Gemstone Association, Fall/Winter, s. 1–6
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.
Kosmowska-Ceranowicz B. (2012). Bursztyn w Polsce i na świecie. Warszawa: Uniwersytet Warszawski.
Matuszewska, A. (2009). Bursztyn bałtycki i inne żywice kopalne w świetle badań fizykochemicznych. Przegląd Geologiczny, vol. 57, nr 12, s.1078-1083,
Schlee D. (1980). Bernstein-Raritaeten (Farben, Strukturen, Fossilen, Handwerk). – 88 S. (mit 55 Farbtafeln); Staatl. Museum für Naturkunde Stuttgart.
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.
Amber, due to its color, smell and remarkable health properties, caught attention already during the Mesolithic times (8,000 - 4,800 BC). In subsequent centuries, it gained popularity, becoming the object of interest of artists, jewelry lovers and traders of the ancient world. In brief, therefore, I will try to present its role in particular cultures.
In Greek culture, the use of amber touches the beginnings of Aegean archeology and Mycenaean culture. H.Schliemann in 1874, studying the history and culture of this area, he found in tombs more than a thousand amber artifacts (Beck, Southard, Adams, 1972; Czebreszuk, 2013). The infrared spectral spectrometry using the K.W.Beck (Beck, Wilbur, Meret, 1964; Czebreszuk, 2013; Koziorowska, 1984) method allowed to determine that the amber elements found in ancient artifacts belong to the Baltic amber variety. Today, more than 3,500 monuments with elements of amber are known from this area, and they come from the times 1700-1000 BC. First of all, they refer to art connected with religion, or more specifically to the cult of the dead, and therefore the art of sepulchral (Czebreszuk, 2013). The great importance of this mineral in ancient Greek culture can be demonstrated by the multitude of its forms. In the finds we can find both amber-shaped, but also flattened amber, lenticular, barrel and cylindrical amber.
Their shape and form changed with the passage of time and the changing fashion. Thus, we have ornaments typical of 1700-1400 BC, as well as those from the time around 1000 BC (Czebreszuk, 2013).
However, amber on the Apennine Peninsula was already known to the Etruscans, and so several centuries before our era (Broszura Bursztyn Bałtycki, ). The increase in its importance and the development of trade led to the creation of a trade route originating in the Adriatic Aquileia, ending at the Baltic Sea, called the amber route. At that time, it was a sign of the strength and size of the Roman Empire, at the same time it could have favored the development of culture in the Polish lands. Our ancestors had the opportunity to be with visitors from ancient Rome, get acquainted with their culture and products, among others dishes, spins, or known ceramics "terra sigillata" (De Navarro, 1925; Wielowiejski, 1983). It is not surprising, therefore, that amber appeared in the works of well-known historians and writers of ancient Rome. Even Piliniusz Starszy in "Historii Naturalnej" writes about amber, describing "Wyprawę rzymskiego ekwity po bursztyn" (Kolendo, 1970).
In the Baltic areas, amber appeared in Neolithic times (more precisely between the 5th and the 2nd millennium BC). From this period, the most common finds are circular and oval pendants, tubular and cylindrical beads, pendants, as well as lumpy solids with a V-shaped aperture. Amulets in the form of discs with a hole in the middle were also popular. As time passed, amber interest became more and more interesting. In the Bronze Age, the mineral began to combine with glass and bronze elements, and amber art developed (Grążawska, Kowalski, Sukiennicka, 2011). In the first centuries of our era, the Baltic areas were part of the amber route. It is interesting that Poland was a transit country for amber, not only to the west and south of Europe, but also in the following years significant power in popularizing the mineral in the East. For example, from Poland, through Kiev or Lviv, amber reached Turkey and Persia (Daszkiewicz, 1980). At the end of the 19th century and at the beginning of the 20th century, hidden treasures with amber and Roman denars (coins) were found in Poland today, which confirms the importance of amber in the ancient world and in Polish tradition (Wielowiejski, 1998).
It is worth mentioning archaeological curiosities that the greatest archaeological discovery of amber was made in Poland. In the area of today's Wroclaw, the so-called "Bursztynowy depozyt z Partynic". Its history goes back to the 1st century BC, and the size of the find is a deposit weighing almost 1,800 kg (Niedźwiedzki, 2014).
Archaeologists' achievements may prove the importance of amber in archaeological tradition and history. It is through the Polish lands that the most important trade routes of this mineral pass. It is known that this unusual stone has fascinated people from prehistory, and most importantly to this day, it enjoys a constant interest.
 Bursztyn Bałtycki. Międzynarodowe Stowarzyszenie Bursztynników. Pobrano ze strony http://www.amber.org.pl/files/7213/9625/6997/bursztyn_baltycki_pl.PDF
1. Beck C.W., Wilbur E., Meret S. (1964). Infrared spectra and the origin of amber, Nature 201, s. 256-257.
2. Beck, C.W., Southard G.C., Adams A.B. (1972). Analysis and provenience of Minoan and Mycenaean amber, IV Mycenae. Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies 13,s.359-385.
3. Czebreszuk. J. (2013). Aktywność pracowni archeologii śródziemnomorskiej epoki brązu w badaniach nad strefą egejską ze szczególnym uwzględnieniem zagadnienia bursztynu w kulturze mykeńskiej. Folia praehistorica posnaniensia, T. XVIII, s.61-71.
4. Daszkiewicz J. R. (1980). Z historii południowo-wschodniego szlaku bursztynowego (XIV - XVII w.) Slavia Antiqua, t. XXV II, s.253-275.
5. De Navarro J.M. (1925). Prehistoric Routes between Northern Europe and Italy Defined by the Amber Trade, The Geographical Journal, Vol. 66, No. 6, s. 481–503.
6. Grążawska J., Kowalski K., Sukiennicka I.(red.) (2011). Bursztyn złoto Bałtyku. Wystawa ze zbiorów z Muzeum Bursztynu w Gdańsku, Szczecin, Gdańsk: Muzeum Narodowe w Szczecinie & Muzeum Bursztynu w Gdańsku
7. Kolendo J. (1970). Wyprawa ekwity nad Bałtyk w okresie panowania cesarza Nerona. Sprawozdania z Prac Naukowych Wydziału I PAN.
8. Koziorowska L. (1984). Badania nieorganicznego składu chemicznego bursztynu. Archeologia Polski, t. XXIX: 1984, z. 2, s. 207-236.
9. Niedźwiedzki R. (2014). Gigantyczny bursztynowy „skarb” partynicki z Wrocławia. W: Kosmowska-Ceranowicz B., Gierłowski W., Sontag E. (red.), Mat. XXI Seminarium: „Bursztyn. Gemmologia - Muzealnictwo - Archeologia”. Gdańsk – Warszawa, s. 23-26.
10. Wielowiejski, J. (1983). Znaczenie szlaku bursztynowego dla kulturowego rozwoju dorzecza górnej Odry we wczesnym okresie wpływów rzymskich. Przegląd Archeologiczny, vol. 1983, s.175-178.
11. Wielowiejski P. (1998). Skarby i pojedyncze znaleziska monet rzymskich
z bursztynem w kulturze przeworskiej. Światowit 41/Fasc. B, s.407-413.
Amber has been inspired from the earliest times. In the Paleolithic he was used to create all kinds of ornaments, including amulets and artifacts. In the ancient world, he appeared in legends, local stories and during religious rites. Thanks to its charm for over 3,000 years, it is a source of jewelery inspiration,
and Poland is currently the world leader in the production of amber jewelry, which enjoys great popularity in Europe, America and Asia.
For centuries, Amber has been strongly embedded in the Polish jewelery tradition, because as much as 90% of the world's mineral deposits can be found near our borders. These are deposits of Baltic amber, which we find mainly in the Kaliningrad region (Russia), but also in the areas of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Ukraine and Poland.
The perception of amber has changed over the centuries. Initially, it was an extremely important element of ornaments and sacred art, including the cult of the dead. Over time, fashion, shape, size, and popularity of designs have changed. This has led to a change in the perception of this mineral in society. In particular, amber is stereotypically associated with old-fashioned, "grandma's" design, or a few prestigious ornaments, especially for many young people. Thinking is very wrong. Why?
Amber is a unique shape, and each of them has a different shape, shade or form. This makes it willingly used by jewelery industry artists. Combined with various, decorative or precious stones, such as turquoise, moonstone or pearls, it can be a beautiful decoration or a unique gift. All amber lumps merge well with silver, gold and other metals. All this gives a lot of opportunities for artists, and the amber jewelery buyers let you feel the owners of a unique product. It is important that the products offered, in addition to decorative functions, are also a successful capital investment.
We are proud that our Amber Museum is one of those exceptional places that combines history and tradition with the latest trends and inspirations, we are pleased that our activity contributes to sensitizing people to the beauty of amber, the diversity of its forms and colors. Because there are no two solids of identical shape or color, each exhibit presented is unique and unparalleled. In our resources you can find stones in various shades - from dairy, yellow to dark orange and red. History and archeology enthusiasts will find amber lumps with remains of animals or plants, as well as minerals with minerals from prehistoric ages (so-called inclusions).
We cordially invite you to visit our museum and gallery, where you can find both unique jewelry, inspired by current trends in fashion jewelry, as well as the classic with timeless designs. In addition to jewelry, we also offer original everyday products and amber art.