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What is an amber stone?

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Quick Answer

The amber stone is considered a gemstone even though it's one of the few gems that is created from living or once-living beings. Amber is the name for fossilized tree resin. Because many types of ancient trees could have produced this resin, different types of amber have different properties.

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Full Answer

Amber was formed when the tree resins mixed with the oxidized oils in the trees and hardened. When the trees died and were buried underground or underwater, the resins changed over eons into lumps of amber. Sometimes leaves, seeds, air bubbles or tiny animals like prehistoric mosquitoes are caught in amber.

The oldest amber discovered is more than 300 million years old. Younger stones can be less than 100,000 years old. The older the stone, the more valuable it is.

Most commercial amber now comes from the Baltic countries in northern Europe. Sometimes this type of amber can be found washed up on the shores of the British Isles. Other countries that provide quantities of amber are the Dominican Republic, Burma and Mexico. Quality amber can also be found in Sicily and North America.

Amber can float on seawater. Most amber is golden, but it can also be brown, black, red or blue. Blue amber is very rare and extremely valuable. Some people believe that amber can balance emotions, attract good luck, eliminate fears, relieve headaches and dissolve negative emotions.

Amber was called elektron in ancient Greece because it becomes electrically charged when rubbed with a cloth.

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