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Extraction and use of amber

We tell you where the Amber is mined today, how it is done and where the fossilized resin is used afterwards.

Since when do people use the amber?

Amber nature
Natural amber

 

In ancient times, this "stone" was traded all over the world. Already almost six thousand years ago people processed Amber with improvised means - stones and bones - to make from it various figures and amulets.

In the 8th century BC Homer spoke of amber as a gemstone used for making jewelry. Around 250 BC, ground amber was burned as incense by the Aztecs and Mayans, who believed it would ward off evil spirits. In the time of gladiators (mid-1st century AD), it was used to decorate arenas, fences, and weapons in battles.

Amber necklace from ancient Greece
Amber necklace from ancient Greece, 600-480 BC.

 

In ancient Greece and Rome, amber was used as a remedy for sore throats. In the Middle Ages, amber was used to treat conditions ranging from headaches to epilepsy.

In ancient Russia, amber was actively used as a jewelry inlay and as a material for decorating rooms and furniture. There are numerous objects made of the amber, which were made between the tenth and thirteenth centuries.

How and where is the amber mined?

Some conifers, when damaged, produce a sticky substance called resin that protects the plant from insects and pests. This resin drips onto the ground and gradually hardens - it hardens. Suitable for collection is what fell into a wet body of water, such as a riverbed, reservoir or the bottom of the sea.

Amber resin
Resin on the tree trunk

 

The oldest and most primitive form was the manual collection of amber from beaches and shallow waters, where it was thrown up by the sea. Then came the era of amber fishing: people went out to sea with special nets and collected seaweed, in which a "stone" could get caught.

The first evidence of amber mining on land dates back to the middle of the 16th century. People dug a hole on the shore, and when they found amber grains in the ground, they dug deeper into the groundwater. Pieces of amber surfaced and were collected.

In the 19th century, when the diving suit was invented, people began to dive to the bottom of the sea in search of amber. The first attempts failed, but eventually this method of amber extraction could be used for about 20 years. Then amber mining reached its commercial stage.

The first mine for commercial extraction of amber on land was established in 1781 near the present village of Sinyavino in Kaliningrad Oblast. It lasted only 7 years, but laid the foundation for a significant industry, and Kaliningrad became the largest source of this organic rock and still is.

Today, amber is mined in quarries using mechanical or hydraulic methods, with the specific methodology varying from farm to farm.

How and in what areas is amber used today?

Amber is mainly used for jewelry making. All kinds of jewelry are made from this stone, the price of which depends on the age and appearance of the amber. For example, ordinary soft amber is often left in the form of round and oval cabochons. Hard amber is faceted, which makes it resemble other precious stones.

The unique blue amber deserves special attention. Its delicate pastel shade makes pieces with it look magical.

Amber jewelry
Silver earrings with amber

 

In industry, amber is used to make varnishes that can be used to coat wooden objects such as furniture, musical instruments or wooden parts of ships. Amber is also used to insulate wires in machines.

In addition, amber is still used in medicine and cosmetics. Amber oil is used to warm muscles or as a warming ointment for colds. And amber powder is used as an exfoliant for face and scalp.

Researchers of various branches of traditional medicine believe that amber can increase the energy level in the body, so they consider it useful in treating all kinds of diseases. And esotericists claim that amber can charge a person with positivity and vitality.