Amber Jewelry

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Vessel Polish Amber Jewelry

What is it and who makes it?

What is Amber?

Amber jewelry is a treasure to own and Vessel is one of the premier amber sources for the reputable trade. Amber is one of the few gems not of mineral origin (others are ivory, pearls, etc.). This highly-prized fossil resin was exuded by coniferous trees thousands and thousands of years ago, sometimes the dripping resin trapped insects, leaves, bark and other things we now call inclusions. Amber is also sometimes referred to as succinite.

Amber Comes in Many Colors

Amber is capable of being highly polished and used in making jewelry, and other ornamental objects. It comes in many colors such as brown (called cognac), green, a bluish shade, red and black. Amber jewelry as been made since before the time of Christ; and at the height of the Roman Empire is was called "Gold of the North.  We offer amber jewelry in a variety of colors; with or without inclusions; in standard stock pieces or one-of-a-kind treasured amber jewels.

Natural and Rare Baltic Amber Colors
rare white colored amber rare citrine colored amber rare bubble inclusion colored amber rare insect inclusion amber rare green colored amber rare blue colored amber

One of the most fascinating aspects of Baltic amber (second to insect, flora, and fauna inclusions) is its wide color spectrum. Most buyers are surprised when they see a display of Baltic amber jewelry from Poland and discover that the gem naturally occurs in 250 colors. This spectrum in amber jewelry complements almost any color of clothing.

Descriptive terms to name the colors of amber came from the antique trade. Picturesque names such as "goose fat," "egg yolk," and "cherry" were based on transparency and color. Other descriptive words include: "banana," "ivory," "milky," "lemon," "sunny," "custard," "honey," "cognac," "molasses," "greenish," "orange," "brown," and "black." The rarest colors of natural amber are blue, green, white, and "kumst" (sauerkraut color). Jewelers in the Polish amber industry have over 200 names for their national gem.

What determines the natural color of Baltic amber? The two factors are:

The microscopic bubble inclusions of gas within the gemstone and the tree source.

The gas bubbles vary in size and quantity within each piece. In the space between these bubbles, the resin is clear. The bubble inclusions actually interfere with the passage of light through the amber. This interference results in the dilution and variations in color and turbidity (opaqueness). Studies have shown that a comparison between the colors of fossil resin and recent resin suggests that certain colors come from certain tree sources.


As far back as the first century, it was known that cloudy amber could be clarified by boiling the gem in the fat of a suckling pig. Later, it was discovered that other oils could be used, the most common being rapeseed oil. The refractive index of rapeseed oil is the closest to that of amber. The amber is immersed in an iron pot of rapeseed oil and slowly heated to the point of boiling. The microscopic air bubbles then become filled with the oil. This makes the amber transparent, as the light is able to travel through the gem without interference. The small circular fissures in the amber are encapsulated water droplets that flatten to disk-like shapes when the amber is boiled. These disks are commonly referred to as "sun spangles" or "fish scales." The amber must then be cooled very slowly or it could fracture easily.


At jewelry and gift shows throughout the country today, you will often see brilliant green amber gems set in sterling silver. This is Baltic amber, but it has been heat enhanced. As with most gems, there are enhancement techniques to enliven and brighten the stone. Remember, the natural green amber is rare and would not be so bright with inclusions and "sun spangles." Currently, jewelers are applying a dark paste (almost like a paint) to the backs of the amber gems. They then heat the amber in an autoclave to clarify it and cause the fractured discs. The illusion of the dark paste through the honey-colored gem causes the beholder's perception of green amber. Another heating method is used to create the cherry color of amber. The heated amber is still considered gem quality. Milky, creamy, and lemon amber are examples of natural colors which have not been heated—obviously, you don't see the "sun spangles."

Centuries of Amber

For centuries Amber jewelry was worn only by nobility and not affordable to the masses. Because amber was ascribed many healing properties it came to be used medicinally in many cultures. As centuries passed, more and more of the masses could afford to own treasured amber jewelry. Even today it is thought that wearing amber jewelry (such a ring, earrings, bracelet, pin or necklace) will instill confidence in the wearer, balance a person's mood, and lessen depression and anxiety.

Amber's Popularity Today

This fascination and attraction to amber jewelry was renewed in the mid-20th century and is soaring in popularity today; especially due to the impressive pieces from the Baltic Sea area. But caution, dear shopper - not all amber is genuine. Technology has advanced and found ways to fool your eye. Our amber is guaranteed to be genuine, in the era of 40 to 60 million years old, and from Poland's Baltic Sea area.

Baltic amber, which is sometimes also known as "succinite" (only the latter is used in Polish goods), comes from the Quaternary beds which are on Polish territory, and the Tertiary beds on the Sambian Peninsula in Russia.

The resin of coniferous trees which dates back about 40 million years, was transported by rivers from Scandinavia and what is now the Baltic Sea, and deposited in the so-called "blue eartH of the delta between Chlapowo and the Sambian Peninsula. This large delta, from Karwia near Chlapowo in Poland spread up the Sambian Peninsula and made deposits in the northern, shallow shelf of the epicontinental marine basin of the Eocene.

Map of Gdansk Delta

Caution: Buy Only Gem Quality Amber

Pressed amber and "ambroid" (pieces of amber embedded in plastic) are commonly found in flea markets, auctions and other places where the buyer is cautioned to beware as this fake amber can easily fool you (sometimes they fool the seasoned buyer!). When you buy from Our American Heritage you are guaranteed real gem quality,

Whatever color of amber is your favorite

—enjoy its special qualities because no two pieces

 are exactly alike!


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