Made famous in popular culture by Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park, amber is fossilized resin from trees dating back millions of years. With a warm yellow hue, amber can sometimes contain insects, leaves, and other organic matter in a kind of time capsule spanning eons. The history of such pieces, forged above ground instead of below, attracts science-oriented minds and those looking for a unique connection to the past.
Among its other uses, amber is an ingredient in perfumes as well a healing agent in many folk medicinal traditions. From cave paintings and other anthropological evidence, it is clear that amber was prized as far back as Neolithic times, and has written histories dating back to the 4th century BC. Amber also acts as a near perfect preservative, meaning any early plant or unlucky creature to get caught in its sticky path before hardening will be completely intact.
Amber is found all over the world, including Myanmar, Lebanon, Sicily, Mexico, Canada, and Russia, as well as its two main sources – the Baltic States and the Dominican Republic. Amber from the Baltic region is typically older and more valuable, however the Dominican Republic variety is more likely to contain insects or other prized artifacts, and is the only location that produces the rare blue amber.