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Miners and gem collectors have mined or collected amber in the Baltic Sea for years. Generally, it is a yellowish, translucent stone.
It might contain trapped insects that greatly raised its value. Surprisingly, some of the insects could be millions of years old.
When it comes to colors, the gemstones color ranges from dim brown to yellow to almost black. On top of that, it is colored in various colors like green, blue and pink.
Baltic amber emanates from the old Umbrella trees of a million years ago. The different shades of amber colors can turn out to be slightly different from every tree. What makes amber unique is the difficult nature of describing how the color is formed.
Amber is heterogeneous in composition, but consists of several resinous bodies more or less soluble in alcohol, ether and chloroform, associated with an insoluble bituminous substance. Amber is a macromolecule by free radical polymerization of several precursors in the labdane family, e.g. communic acid, cummunol, and biformene. These labdanes are diterpenes (C20H32) and trienes, equipping the organic skeleton with three alkene groups for polymerization. As amber matures over the years, more polymerization takes place as well as isomerization reactions, crosslinking and cyclization.
Heated above 200 °C (392 °F), amber decomposes, yielding an oil of amber, and leaves a black residue which is known as “amber colophony”, or “amber pitch”; when dissolved in oil of turpentine or in linseed oil this forms “amber varnish” or “amber lac”Molecular polymerization, resulting from high pressures and temperatures produced by overlying sediment, transforms the resin first into copal. Sustained heat and pressure drives off terpenesand results in the formation of amber
Amber is globally distributed, mainly in rocks of Cretaceous age or younger. Historically, the coast west of Königsberg in Prussia was the world’s leading source of amber. The first mentions of amber deposits here date back to the 12th century. About 90% of the world’s extractable amber is still located in that area, which became the Kaliningrad Oblast of Russia in 1946