Meet The Gemstone: Amber

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All about Amber Gemstones history and facts by Jay Cuneo Jewelry
It's been far too long since I posted a Meet the Gemstone Blog! So with the recent release of the Amber Lights Collection this past week, I wanted to share all about this unusual gemstone, which is actually not a stone at all.
Luminous Amber stone on wood table with dark black background Jay Cuneo Jewelry
If it's not a stone, what is it?
Unlike Moonstone, Agates, Tourmalines and Opals, Amber is not a crystalized rock. It's actually fossilized tree sap that has spent millions of years (yes, millions!) polymerizing over time and with pressure and heat. Tree resin is a tree's immune response to wounds, pests or infection. It's the healing and protecting sap that in lucky conditions, eventually transforms into the beautiful gem we know as Amber. 
If you've ever heard of copal, often used as a lovely incense, copal is actually baby amber. Where Amber has spent millions of years fossilizing under ground, copal has spent just thousands of years transforming. True Amber is actually quite rare because requiring such a long time to truly fossilize and being a delicate material, much will get destroyed over those millions of years. 
Up close macro picture of amber jay cuneo jewelry blog
So now that we know what Amber is, let's talk some fun facts about this beautiful gem.
1. The word electricity is actually derived from the greek word for Amber
Some 2500 years ago, a greek philosopher by the name of Thales of Miletus discovered that when rubbed with a cloth, Amber can actually produce sparks and attract small and light objects such as feathers and hair. This alchemical magic is what we now know as static electricity, which is derived from the greek name for Amber, elektron
2. Many extinct species have been identified thanks to Amber

Because Amber is a perfect capsule to preserve little insects that met their fate in the sticky sap, paleontologists have been able to identify more than 1000 extinct species of insects from pieces of Amber

Insect in Amber gemstone blog post by jay cuneo jewelry

3. The oldest Amber is 320 million years old!

Most Amber is around 90 million years old and the most well known and largest deposits are found in the Baltic region. However, an unexpected discovery in an Illionois coal mine back in 2008 changed the entire understanding of evolutionary plant history, showing resins in plant life date back at least 320 million years.

4. Baltic Amber has been found in Egyptian tombs

Amber was a gem loved by Egyptians. There have been many instances of Amber and other resins being found in tombs dating back to 2300 BCE. Some scholars believe the gem could have been revered as a symbol for the tears of Ra, the sun god and creator of all deities. 

5. Amber has been used in jewelry as early as 11,000 BCE

Amber gems have been used in jewelry since the Stone Age. Ornaments of Amber have been found in Mycenaean (ancient Greek) tombs and other locations in Europe. Archeological sites in England have uncovered polished and carved Amber talismans that date back to 11,000 BCE. Even before we know of it being used in jewelry, Amber was being used to make varnish as long ago as 250 BCE. Amber powder and bits have been burned as incense for who knows how long! The beautiful sweet, resinous scent is truly the most comforting and sensual aroma (so much so, that I made both Ritual Whip Body Butter and Polish Potion Sugar Scrub -but more on that below) 

And of course, this precious, ancient material is used in jewelry today!

A few months ago at a gemshow (first one in two years due to the virus), I was convinced by my boyfriend to select a couple pieces of Amber. I had never worked with it before, both because I tend to gravitate to cool toned gems and because honestly, it felt so strange compared to regular stones! It's much more light and just has a different feel on the fingertips. But I took his advice and I'm so glad I did, because as I began to work with these two gorgeous stones I fell more and more in love with their glow and character. 

 These two one of a kind Spiritus necklaces hopefully honor this unusual, rare and historic gem. I can say for certain that they definitely lit up even more than I could have imagined once a polished silver setting encased them.

One of a kind large amber necklaces by jay cuneo jewelry

But not only that, but like I mentioned this collection inspired me to add some new body products to my newly started beauty line! 

Amber Ritual Whip

Amber whipped body butter made with shea and coco butter

Amber Polish Potion

Amber fragrance whipped shea sugar scrub body polish by jay cuneo beauty

I wanted to create a scent that honored Amber, but was still a little different and more complex than straight Amber fragrances so I paired this beautiful fragrance with Vanilla Bean to enhance the comforting vibes, a delicate touch of Japanese Yuzu for citrusy brightness and grounded the overall blend with earthy Sandalwood. Hands down this has been a winner with everyone whose tried it so far (even men! So ladies if you want your man to chase you this is the scent to wear lol). 



Meet the Gemstone

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