Published December 2015  •  Updated June 2022  •  Read Time: 13 minutes
People have loved Amber since time immortal and have written about its healing properties for thousands of years.  It is an extremely light-weight and soft gemstone, that is easy to carve and can even float in water!  On the Baltic coast, it washes up on beaches after a heavy storm, making it easy to gather and trade.  While most stones feel cold to the touch, this lovely gem often feels warm or room-temperature.  Amber is an organic gemstone created by a biological process, instead of a geological one.  It is fossilized tree resin.  Each deposit dates back to a different time period, sometimes relatively recent and other times many millions of years old.  Energetically it’s a bright and happy little stone eager to share luck and goodwill.

Amber

Amber Meaning

Spiritual Healing Properties

Amber is sunshine we can hold in our hands and is used to connect us to all that is Light and Good. It links us to our Highest Self and helps us to see how we can become positive agents of change in our own lives and in the lives of others. It encourages us to be spontaneous and confident, while also being gentle and respectful. Amber is a fantastic manifestation tool, inspiring us to seize hold of our dreams and ambitions and do the work to turn them into reality. Amber brings us good fortune, and both aligns and cleanses our entire energy field.

Metaphysical Properties Amber
Chakra Solar Plexus
Element Earth
Numerology 3
Zodiac Leo and Aquarius

Emotional Healing Properties

Amber has an exceptionally happy and joyful vibration. Its energy frees us from any negative emotional chains that tie us down, and helps to combat depression, anxiety, and other difficult emotions. Amber reminds us that life is good and that we are a vital part of it! Amber can help us to strengthen and improve all types of relationships, particularly between friends and lovers. It reminds us why we first liked and loved other people, and what it was about ourselves that first attracted them to us. Amber encourages us to bring the best of ourselves to our relationships and to love unconditionally and expansively. It is a peaceful stone, that encourages us to be generous and trusting.

Mental Healing Properties

Amber strengthens our sense of purpose and direction. It encourages us to think big and to work towards real solutions. It stimulates the intellect as well as our creativity. Amber reminds us that when we consciously and wholeheartedly direct our energy and focus on to something, we can do great things. Amber pushes us to move beyond “pragmatic” and “practical” and instead move into “inspirational.” It encourages us to see the world clearly and respond to it for the Highest Good of all.

Physical Healing Properties

Amber is recommended during those times when we know what we should be doing and need an extra push to actually do it. It helps us to stop sabotaging our own life, health and general wellbeing. Amber has a joyful energy that encourages us to embrace positive habits and let go of habits that do not serve our Higher Good. Amber is an excellent talisman when dealing with issues in the digestive system and nearby organs including the stomach, spleen, liver, kidneys and gallbladder. It is not recommended for teething babies, as necklaces and loose stones can pose a strangulation risk and choking hazard. Amber is a soft stone that easily breaks and may have sharp edges. While Baltic Amber does contain succinic acid, which is an anti-inflammatory, it is only released if the Amber is heated to 400 degrees.

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Amber Mineralogy

Where does Amber come from?

Amber is fossilized tree resin that is millions of years old. It is found worldwide, with some of the larger deposits located in Colombia, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Estonia, Indonesia, Germany, Latvia, Madagascar, Mexico, Norway, Poland, Russia, Sweden Tanzania, and the United States (notably: Alaska and California).

Mining and Treatments

Amber may be mined in numerous ways depending on the location. It may be naturally cast up by waves and collected on beaches, mined by dredging or diving, or dug in open pits and underground tunnels. Amber is often found in association with coal (which is also the fossilized remains of trees) as well as other plant material.

Amber Placeholder
Amber

Mineral Family

Amber is fossilized tree resin.  It is among the few “organic gems” created by biological processes, rather than geological ones.  In some cases, organic gems contain the same mineral matter, such as Calcite or Aragonite, that is generated by inorganic processes.  Organic gems are judged by the same qualities as inorganic gems – by their beauty and durability.  Organic gemstones tend to be softer and can be easily carved and polished by primitive methods which is why many of the earliest pieces of jewelry were made from organic gemstones.

Amber’s energy works well with its family
– other organic minerals.  Try it in combination with Coral, Jet, Shell, Shungite, and Pearl

Amber Formation and Crystal Associates

Amber is the fossilized resin of coniferous (evergreen) trees. It is created when coniferous trees seep sticky resin which then, over a long period of time, hardens and fossilizes into a gemstone. Anything caught in the resin, including insects, small reptiles, amphibians, as well as plant material, will be preserved inside. Over 1000 ancient species have been found preserved in Amber!

Amber’s energy works well with its “friends” – crystal associates formed in the same geological environment.  Try it in combination with Jet

How to distinguish fake Amber from real Amber

There is also a great deal of imitation Amber on the market. Some of the ways you can tell if your stone is authentic are as follows:

  1. Real Amber is a poor heat conductor and so is warmer to the touch than glass and most plastics.
  2. Amber floats in salt water, while glass and some plastic will sink to the bottom.
  3. When rubbed with wool, real Amber will create a static charge that attracts tissue paper; glass and plastic will not create this charge.
  4. When scraped, real Amber becomes a powder, while glass and plastic both flake.
  5. When heated, it smells like pine.
Mineralogy Stone
Chemical Formula Hydrocarbon (C, H, O)
Cleavage None
Color typically yellow, but can also be orange, red, or green
Crystal System None
Form/Habit Amorphous
Fracture Conchoidal
Hardness – Mohs Scale 2-2.5
Luminescence Blueish-white (long wave) / Yellowish-white (short wave)
Luster Resinous
Mineral Family Organic Gem
Specific Gravity 1.1
Streak White
Transparency Transparent to Opaque

History of Amber

Amber has one of the oldest and most detailed historical traditions of any healing stone. It is included in virtually every known lapidary, texts which describe gemstones and their powers. At various times, it has been worth more than gold and been fiercely coveted by kings and tsars, popes and empresses.

Amber is fossilized tree resin millions of years old.  Resin is an organic material that oozes out of evergreen trees as a self-healing mechanism.  When a tree is injured, for example if a limb is snapped, resin seeps out to seal off the broken area.  The hardened sap keeps insects and diseases from invading the tree.  The resin acts the very same way as our blood does, clotting and hardening over an open wound.  The resin starts out sticky but soon hardens.  If the resin gets buried, it will begin to fossilize.  If it’s left undisturbed for a few thousand years, the resin becomes Copal.  If it is left for millions of years, it becomes Amber.  Baltic Amber is the oldest variety, it ranges in age from 30-320 million years old.  Indonesia “Blue” Amber is 10-23 million years old, while the Columbian variety is a mere 3-16 million years old.

Pine Resin, Amber

Because Amber sometimes has inclusions, both plant and animal, it is an invaluable resource for scientists studying ancient ecosystems. Michael Crichton’s famous novel/movie, Jurassic Park, relies on the premise that some insects which fed on dinosaurs were trapped in tree resin and their bodies thus perfectly preserved in Amber. Scientists could then extract the DNA preserved in the insects’ stomachs and use it to reproduce the dinosaurs that later wreaked havoc throughout the science fiction thriller. In reality, DNA breaks down over time and so cannot be successfully extracted from Amber. Moreover, even if DNA was extracted – it would almost certainly be insect DNA – not dinosaurs!

Amber comes from several different species of evergreen trees.  These trees have all been extinct since long before humans arrived on the planet.  But some closely-related trees can still be found growing in modern forests.  For example, the Monkey Puzzle Tree in the Andes and the Kauri Pine in Australia and Papua New Guiana.  These are ancient trees standing guard over rich deposits of Copal.  If left undisturbed, they would eventually become Amber.

Amber is found in small deposits in many locations around the world.   It ranges in color from ivory to ebony, with all the colors in between. The most common shades are, of course, the sunset colors of yellow, orange, and red. But, Amber also appears naturally in vivid green and even blue! In terms of price, the most precious color of all is a frothy white, while the rarest is jet black.  The largest and most important Amber deposit is found along the Baltic Coast in northern Europe. Most of the Baltic Amber is trapped underground, deep enough that it is considered uneconomical to mine. However, some Amber washes up freely on the beach every year, ranging in size from small beads to large bricks!

Monkey Puzzle Tree, Amber

Monkey Puzzle Tree

In prehistoric Europe, Amber was used for animal carvings, some of which have been dated as far back as 7000 BCE, making them more than 2000 years older than the earliest civilizations in Egypt and Mesopotamia. The oldest known reference to Amber is in Homer’s Odyssey (8th century BCE). In the epic poem, the Greek nobleman Eurymachus is described as wearing beautiful Amber jewelry while he tried to seduce Odysseus’ wife, Penelope. For the ancient Mediterranean civilizations, Amber came from what would have been considered “the edge of the world.” They knew little of its origins, except that it came from the place “where the North Star culminates,” according to one obelisk listing the treasures of an Assyrian king. At first, Amber was traded mainly by the Phoenicians, the great sailors, explorers, and merchants of the ancient world. Later, Amber traveled overland. In fact, the main trade routes linking Northern and Southern Europe were often referred to as the “Amber Road” in a similar spirit as the “Silk Road” which runs east to west across Eurasia.

Due to its main coloring, Amber has long been associated with the sun. The Greeks called this gemstone elektron (or sun) because of its coloring and the way that it glows in light. Many centuries later, an English physician studied Amber’s curious ability to attract other substances, such as lint and dried grass, when rubbed. He dubbed this natural phenomenon “electricity.” The modern name “Amber” comes from the Latin ambar, a shortened form of ambergris, a waxy substance produced by sperm whales. Ambergris and Amber both wash up occasionally on seashores, and both can be burned as incense or used to make perfume.

Perhaps more than any other stone, Amber has the widest assortment of origin myths. According to numerous Greek, Celtic, and Germanic stories, Amber was solidified sunshine created when the sun’s rays fell into the ocean. Roman and Chinese myths describe Amber as fossilized honey, which had dripped off bees and fallen into the sea. In one Greek myth, Amber was the dew from the Golden Apples found in the Garden of Immortality, while in another bizarre Greek story, Amber was refereed to as lyncurius, and believed to be the fossilized urine of the lynx cat!

The most common origin story relates Amber to tears. For example, in one myth, Amber fell from the eyes of Apollo, the Greek sun god, after he was briefly exiled from Olympus. In another myth, the Meleagrids, sisters of the hero Meleager, wept copious tears after their brother died. Their grief was so raw that, eventually, Artemis, the twin sister of Apollo, took pity on them and turned them into guinea fowl. The transformation ended their sorrow and also changed their tears to Amber. In yet another tale, Phaethon, a son of Apollo, was given the opportunity to drive the chariot of the sun. But he lost control of the great fiery horses and the chariot ran out of control, severely burning the earth, thus creating vast deserts and causing volcanoes to erupt. Zeus, king of the gods, threw a lightening bolt and killed Phaeton, and the horses, now without a driver, bolted back home. When Phaeton’s seven sisters, the Heliades, found his body, they too wept. Eventually, they became black poplar trees, but their tears continued to flow as resin, eventually hardening into Amber.

Helius The Sun, Amber

The Sun God (Greek Vase, 450 BC), British Museum

Amber was also said to be tears of regret shed by Freya, the Norse goddess of love and beauty. She cheated on her husband, Odur, with four dwarfs in exchange for a beautiful Amber necklace! When Odur found out, thanks to Loki, the god of mischief, he went into a rage and left Valhalla forever. Freya confessed her sins to Odin, the king of the gods, and in penance he commanded that she travel the world in search of her husband. As she searches, the goddess cries. When her tears fall on land, they turn to gold, when her tears fall in the water they become Amber instead.

Perhaps the saddest story tying Amber to tears is the Baltic myth of the mermaid-goddess Juraté. Long ago, a handsome fisherman named Kastytis cast his nets into the sea, near the mouth of the Sventoji River, in Lithuania. This fishing angered the local sea-goddess, Juraté, and so she sent her mermaids to tell him to stop. But he continued to fish, and so eventually Juraté arrived personally, intending to punish the fisherman. But when she saw how handsome he was, she fell in love and invited Kastytis to come live with her in her underwater palace made of Amber. When her father found out, he was enraged and so killed her mortal lover and destroyed her palace. Juraté was left chained to the ruins of her palace, mourning her handsome fisherman for all eternity, and crying tears of Amber. The best Amber is said to be tear shaped, and as clear and pure as Juraté’s love for the Kastytis.

Jurate, Amber

Jurate and Kastytis, wood carving by Dale Šakalienė (2004)

Yet another story ties Amber to love and loss, if not to actual tears. Once upon a time, a beautiful maiden named Amberella, lived on the shores of the Baltic Sea. One day she was swimming and caught the attention of the Prince of the Seas who decided to claim her as his bride. He drew her down in a powerful whirlpool and installed her in his underwater palace made of Amber. But his bride was unhappy and begged to go home. This enraged the Prince and he churned the sea in a storm and taking Amberella in his arms he rose to the surface of the water intending to scare her with this show of his powers. Her parents were on the shore and saw their daughter and cried out to her. She tore her jewelry off her body and threw it to her parents  so they would know how much she loved and missed them. The Prince often gets angry and churns the seas and shows off his powers, and whenever he does Amberella uses this as an opportunity to cast Amber up out of the sea and on to the shore.

Mythology aside, the Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder (CE 23-79) is credited with being the first author to correctly recognize that Amber was fossilized tree resin. He also documented its literal value in the ancient world, stating that an Amber carving could be worth more on the open market than a healthy slave. In his book, The Natural History of Precious Gemstones, Pliny also recorded many of the medicinal uses of Amber. According to his work, the gemstone had been used for medicinal and spiritual purposes at least as far back as the time of Hippocrates (c.400 BCE), the original Father of Medicine. Amber could be used to treat a wide-variety of diseases, from fevers to gum disease, and from heat-stroke to whooping cough. Some of the remedies were as simple as just wearing Amber beads, while others used powdered Amber in expensive medicines that also included ingredients like oil-of-rose and honey. Amber was also recommended to protect infants from evil spirits. Interestingly, the modern trend for giving infants Amber beads during teething actually dates back centuries! Medieval and modern lapidaries continued to celebrate Amber’s many healing properties. It has been variously rumored to cure everything from the plague to heart disease, impotence to jaundice, to epilepsy and even loose teeth!