What is Amber?


Baltic Amber (succinite) is a fascinating stone. We are really proud that it is strongly associated with Poland and especially with our beautiful Gdansk. Due to the fact that Gdansk is called the World's Capital of Amber, we feel obliged to give you a comprehensive answer to the question: What is Amber? We've gathered for you only the most useful information here. After reading this article you will be the Amber Specialist. You can either watch a short video above or read the whole post which we strongly advise. You can simply grab a PDF and read it whenever you want or share with anyone interested.

1.What Is Amber According To Myths and Legends

According to ancient Greek myth, Amber was the tears of Heliades shed into the River Eridanus after the death of their brother Phaëthon. The legend says that angry Zeus threw Phaëthon into the river after the boy used his father’s golden chariot to ride across the sky. That seems a very sad and pessimistic story.

The Chinese used to believe that Amber was the soul of a tiger which had died and passed into the earth converting into pieces of Amber. For them, Amber was deemed to give its possessor the courage of the tiger.

Another legend says that Amber was a stone sacred to Freya - the Viking goddess. After the disappearance of her husband Odin, she wept. Her tears falling on rock turned to gold and when they fell into the sea, they turned into Amber.

For Native Americans, the Slavic people of Northern Europe, and in Neolithic times, Amber was a sacred symbol of the sun while to early Christians, Amber signified the presence of the Lord.

It seems like there is no clear explanation of the ancient meaning of this precious stone. I like the Chinese attitude. You too?

2. But What Is Amber From Scientific Point Of View?

Amber is a fossilized conifer resin produced in the Tertiary forest at least 40 million years ago in Northern Europe - from southern regions of the present day Scandinavia and nearby regions of the bed of the Baltic Sea.

Tertiary trees were large and produced great amounts of resin. They were coniferous trees from the family Pinaceae, resembling such species as today’s Cedrus (cedar from the Atlas Mountains) and Larix (larch).

The climate became warmer and trees started to exude big amounts of resin. If you want to learn more about Baltic Amber and feel as if you were living in that time you need to visit the exhibition "Life in the Amber Forest”. It is devoted to Amber and amber inclusions.  For the past 18 years, they have constituted the subject of research of the Laboratory of Amber Inclusions at the Department of Invertebrate Zoology and Parasitology of the University of Gdansk. Our family has visited this exhibition and it was a great experience not only for us but also our kids.

what is amber fossilized conifer resin

3. What Is Amber Classification For?

As no other kind of amber in the world, Baltic Amber characterizes a great wealth of varieties. It results from its diverse internal structure, inclusions, and degree of weathering. Hence, the International Amber Association prepared a clear and comprehensive Classification of Baltic Amber (Succinite) Gemstones.

Baltic Amber colors range from bright yellow to dark yellow or brownish-orange, depending on its age and where it is found. In seldom cases it is either red or blue. Only a small quantity of amber is clear, because of the effects of the sun. Most of it is actually opaque.

4 types of Succinite by the International Amber Association:

What is Amber Classification by International Amber Association

Natural Baltic amber (Succinite) – gemstone which has undergone mechanical treatment only (for instance: grinding, cutting, turning or polishing) without any change to its natural properties

Modified Baltic amber (Succinite) – gemstone subjected only to thermal or high-pressure treatment, which changed its physical properties, including the degree of transparency and color.

Reconstructed (pressed) Baltic amber (Succinite) – gemstone made of one Baltic amber stone or many pieces pressed at high temperature and under high pressure without additional components.

Bonded Baltic amber (Succinite) (doublet, triplet) – gemstone consisting of two or more parts of natural, modified or reconstructed Baltic amber bonded together with the use of the smallest possible amount of a binding agent necessary to join the pieces.

The above classification of Baltic amber gemstones was adopted by the Board of the International Amber Association on November 20, 1999, as amended. Last amended on September 05, 2014, unified text.

4. What Else Should You Know About Amber?

What is Amber Chemical Composition?

Amber consists of 79 percent carbon, 10.5 percent hydrogen, and 10.5 percent oxygen. Studies have shown that it contains over 40 compounds as well as Succinic Acids and additive salts of potassium, sodium, and iron.

Where To Find Amber?

The richest deposits of amber in the world are located at a depth of 5-30 meters in the Kaliningrad Oblast and 120 meters underground in the area of Chlapowo (Gdansk Bay). Other large loads can be found in the Zambian Peninsula.

5. What Is Amber Famous For?

Why is Amber so Valuable Stone?

Baltic Amber is a highly valued and desired decorative stone. Since Palaeolithic times it has been used as a material for ornaments. It appeared in ancient Mediterranean cultures from Mycenae to Egypt, the lands of the Etruscan Civilisation and Phoenician cities, in time reaching almost all the corners of the globe.

Its popularity bloomed in the times of Ancient Greece and Rome, and in Arabian countries. Amber was also known in many Asian cultures. Within a few thousand years it became a legendary and most popular amulet and decorative stone. Roman merchants used to travel around Europe looking for sources of the raw material. The Southern civilizations were connected with the Barbarian North by the famous Amber Route.

For centuries, this highly valued and appreciated stone, mostly at magnate's estates, showed their wealth and power.

What is Amber Route

What is Amber World's Capital?

The huge demand for amber products in 16th and 18th century contributed to the development of amber craft, with the biggest centers in Gdansk and Konigsberg. Gdansk is called the World's Capital of Amber.

Today there are a few hundred workshops and plants located in Gdansk and the Pomeranian region which supply shops and galleries all over the world with amber. Many smaller workshops are also located in other parts of Poland, and they effectively contribute to building the "amber" image.

What is Amber Chamber?

The Amber Chamber is the most famous piece of amber art of all times, which has been arousing treasure hunters' imagination since the end of World War II, was also created at that time. More about this spectacular and desired masterpiece will be covered in a separate post.


So to summarize: What is amber? It is not only a jewelry stone but also a witness of life dating back to at least 40 million years ago. Amber seems to be highly valued and fashionable ornamental stones in the world. Inclusions in the form of small animals and fragments of plants are excellent research material for paleontologists and the subject of interest of hobbyists and collectors.

The unparalleled variety and beauty of amber colors and its beneficial influence on our health and well-being makes amber jewelry more and more often worn with casual clothes, while its more luxury and extravagant versions are used as ornaments for special occasions.

Riddle: What Is Amber Fishing?

Have you ever heard about Amber Fishing? Find out. Watch and enjoy the video by the International Amber Association:

I hope you liked this article. If you still have any questions or doubts just let us know. We want to dispel all your doubts and would love to hear your feedback.


You may also be interested in these articles:

Amber Healing Properties

How To Identify Amber | How do I know if my Baltic Amber is fake or real?

How to Choose the Best Baltic Amber Teething Necklace - The Complete Guide for Caring Mums from A-Z [2019]

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