Baltic Amber is the oldest and most valued of all amber. It is abundant along the shores of the Baltic Sea and is used for healing, decorative jewelry, and was also used historically.
Amber is fossilized sap of pine trees from about 45 million years ago. It comes in many different forms but scientists aren't sure if this is because of the different ways it was formed or simply from different species of pine. Amber comes in a range of colors from dark brown up to light golden yellow. Although, rarely, amber additionally appears in colors white through ivory (called "bone amber"). Also, sometimes insects or plant life will appear inside a piece of amber, trapped and preserved over time.
Amber has been loved and used by everyone throughout the years. The oldest piece of amber, dated 30,000 years back, was found near a small town in Germany. Discoveries of amber are happening everywhere, all the time but the biggest discovery was in the 1980's, a few miles outside a town in Poland. There, settlements were found where amber was crafted between 2100 BC and 1700 BC. Over 30,000 pieces of crafted amber were found. Crafting amber is shaping it by carving or melting. So amber craft has been a profession for many years!
In Greece, Baltic amber was buried with dead kings to show wealth. Their mythology believed amber was made from tears shed by a nymph as they dropped into water.
Ancient Romans cherished amber and used it as decorative jewelry for the rich. Roman coins have even been found as far over as Poland, inferring they traveled far just to get amber!
Amber is also believed to have healing powers. It was used to massage muscles that were sore, and in its powdered form (with oil, honey, and alcohol into ointments) it was good for almost any illness. Many people today still believe in amber's healing powers though it has not been scientifically proven but it certainly can't hurt.
Amber has a hardness of 2-3, a resinous luster, and a specific gravity of 1.05-1.09.