Natural History of Amber

Amber is the fossilised resin of trees from ancient pine forests which existed more than 30 million years ago. When a tree became damaged, the resin would seep out from the ‘wound’ in the tree and when the tree eventually died, the resin would end up on the forest floor. Over time the resin hardened, but it did not turn into amber until more than one million years later.

Pieces of amber can vary in colour from milky white to golden and dark brown, orange and reddish, and even the clearest green and blue. Some pieces are transparent – both with and without small glittering pockets of air inside, while others are opaque. It all depends on where in the world the amber comes from and the conditions under which it was formed.

One of the most fascinating aspects of amber is its ability to preserve insects and plants, which became trapped in the resin 30-50 million years ago. Irregularities such as insects, wood and air bubbles makes the pieces even more rare and valuable.

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