Gemstone of the Month: April

Gemstone of the Month: April

Everyone associates Diamonds with the month of April.  However, there are other stones associated with this month including opal and sapphire.  April also hosts the zodiac signs of Aries and Taurus, and these signs are represented by a further nine stones including bloodstone, topaz, jasper, coral, amber, turquoise, emerald, aventurine and garnet.

Most people know something about diamonds so, for now, let’s focus on one of the other stones.  I’ve chosen to tell you a little bit about Amber. 

Exquisite prehistoric legacy of beauty and knowledge:     Amber is fossilised tree resin, which has been appreciated for its colour and natural beauty since Neolithic times. Much valued from antiquity to the present as a gemstone, amber is made into a variety of decorative objects.  It is also valued as a healing agent in folk medicine.  Healers believe amber concentrates the magic of the sun and symbolises our life energy as well as boosting our nervous system and our thinking processes!

Because it originates as soft, sticky tree resin, amber sometimes contains animal and plant material as inclusions.  The oldest amber recovered dates to about 320 million years ago although it becomes abundant about 150 million years ago. Amber sometimes contains animals or plant matter that became caught in the resin as it was secreted. Insects, spiders and even their webs, frogs, crustaceans, bacteria and amoebae, tiny marine fossils, wood, flowers and fruit, hair, feathers and other small organisms have been recovered from ambers dating back to 130 million years ago.   The English word amber derives from Arabic ʿanbar’ a word adopted into English in the 14th century.  

The classical names for amber, Latin electrum and Ancient Greek ēlektron, are connected to a term meaning ‘beaming Sun’.  According to myth, when Phaëton the son of Helios (the Sun) was killed, his mourning sisters became poplar trees, and their tears became ‘Elektron’ - amber.

The early 19th century saw the first reports of Amber being found in North America with discoveries in New Jersey. 

Amber occurs in a range of different colours. As well as the usual yellow-orange-brown, amber itself can range from a whitish colour through a pale lemon yellow, to brown and almost black. Other uncommon colours include red amber (sometimes known as "cherry amber"), green amber, and even blue amber, which is very rare and highly sought after. 

Amber has been used for jewellery since the Stone Age, from 13,000 years ago and Amber ornaments have been found in Mycenaean tombs and elsewhere across Europe.

It is awesome to think that the Amber we wear in our jewellery today was around almost at the beginning of our planet’s existence!

 

Keep an eye out for Kristaval pieces using Amber as you scroll through our pages…

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