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Amber

Amber

Amber is petrified resin of the coniferous trees which grew on the vast territory of the southern part of the Northland and bordering areas of the modern Baltic Sea approximately 45-50 ml years ago. Amber has been appreciated for its color and natural beauty since Neolithic times. Amber is used as an ingredient in perfumes, as a healing agent in folk medicine, and as jewelry. Because it originates as a soft, sticky tree resin, amber sometimes contains animal and plant material as inclusions.

The largest piece of amber in Russia is kept in the Amber Museum and weight 4 280gr.

The intensity of the coloration, the degree of transparency or non-transparency of the gem depend on a great extent of the microscopic cavities that can be found in every stone, on their number, size and location.

The following varieties of amber are distinguished:

Transparent in which one can find isolated cavities.         

Semi-transparent in which there are large clusters of cavities that lead to haziness (cloudy, hybrid).

Non-transparent (bone and foamy) where the amount of cavities can reach 900 000 per 1 cubic meter. This type of amber is the rarest and the most precious, also well-known as Royal Amber or Milky Amber.    

The nature endowed amber with incredible richness of colors. There are bright yellow, reddish pieces reminding of a tongue of flame, as well as «honey» pieces. There are also «cloudy» pieces – they are sort of hazed with fleecy clouds. One can also find amazingly beautiful amber pieces of blue and green shades.

Amber became a household item of the people living on the Baltic Sea coast in the Late Stone Age – in 4000 BC.

People learned to treat it with flint and ivory tools – to grind it, to saw it up, to drill it, and they made different adornments and amulets in the form of figures of men and animals.

As early as in the antiquity amber was a most important item of exchange that was popular far beyond the bounds of the Baltic Sea region. Thanks to the archaeological diggings and the data from the records the scientists managed to identify the trade routes along which amber was traded from the Baltic to the countries of ancient civilizations.

The information about the «gold of the North» can be found in the antique records. Thus, in the Homer’s «Odyssey» (8th century BC) amber was mentioned in several songs as a precious material for making ladies’ adornments and for decorating tsars’ palaces.

The Amber Room in the Catherine Palace near St. Petersburg  is a complete chamber decoration of amber panels backed with gold leaf and mirrors. Created in the 18th century, it disappeared during World War II, and was recreated in 2003.

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