Amber Symbolism: What Does the Gemstone Represent?
Amber is unlike many gemstones in that it is actually a fossilized tree resin. Its beauty has been admired for thousands of years. Learn more about amber symbolism with this handy guide to all things amber.
Keyword(s): amber symbolism
Have you ever seen those little yellow stones with what looks like bugs inside of them? Guess what-- that's no stone. That's a fossil.
And those are real bugs.
It's called Amber, and it's absolutely ancient. You can purchase it in stone formation or in jewelry, which is crazy when you think about the lifetime of the element!
It has a slew of benefits for the mind, body, and soul, and it also has some pretty strong symbolism behind it.
Want to learn all about amber symbolism and the many benefits of wearing amber jewelry? Keep reading!
What Is Amber?
Despite the popular belief that amber is a precious stone, it's actually something very different. It's resin from pine trees, fossilized over hundreds of thousands of years. That's some pretty old sap.
The oldest amber with preserved bugs inside is 230 million years old, with ancient cousins of gnats and mosquitos suspended within the gem. Amber is considered a gem, by the way-- just not a gemstone.
It's rare to find a piece of amber with a bug preserved inside. Most pieces of amber found are small and found in the Baltic region. Every once in a while, though, scientists get excited by a previously unknown life form trapped in amber.
The most exciting find yet? The feathers of what's thought to be a theropod dinosaur, trapped inside an 80-million-year-old piece of amber found in Alberta, Canada.
Unlike the Jurassic Park movies suggest, though, scientists have been unsuccessful in their attempts to remove DNA from fossils trapped inside amber. That's because DNA has a half-life of 521 years, which means that it begins to decompose after that amount of time. By 1,042 years old, the nucleotide bonds in the DNA will be completely gone.
Since amber is usually at least ten times older than that, that doesn't leave much room for DNA extraction (unfortunately).
Amber has a diverse and rich cultural history. Ancient cultures all over the world have applied symbolic meanings to the gem, making it one of the most revered elements across the globe.
Between 800 and 1,000 AD, Scandinavian Vikings would carve pieces of amber into various animal shapes. Each carved piece was meant to contain the individual strengths of that animal species. They'd attach carved amber bears to weaponry and armor, and keep personal amber totems of animals whose strength was needed.
Ancient Roman and Greek women wore amber totems of animals meant to symbolize fertility. In those days, that included frogs, fish, and rabbits.
In ancient Chinese culture, tigers were revered as the most powerful and fearful creatures. They were considered the "King of the Mountain," and this reverence shows in their mythological beliefs about amber. They believed that tiger souls actually turned into amber after they died, making amber one of their most respected and powerful gems.
Besides ancient amber meaning, healthful and positive amber properties are also almost too numerous to count.
Ancient cultures, especially the Chinese, would carry the gem as they traveled long distances. It was said to hold protective energies that guarded them against disease and destruction on the road. It was also said to protect against jaundice!
Physical benefits of amber include its ability to relieve headaches and balance hormones. The hormone-balancing effects are supposed to balance emotions and be mood-boosting, too!
Mentally, amber has the power to eliminate fearful thoughts. It ups your confidence so you're better able to tackle big projects or anxious thoughts. It also has the power to clear your mind of worry and help you focus on the task at hand.
New ageists would say that amber has the power to attract good luck and positive energy, and repel negative energy. It's also said to speed up the development of wisdom and patience, two strongly desired characteristics by a huge portion of Earth's population. It's up to you to wear a pair of amber earrings and decide whether or not these spiritual properties have merit!
Amber is called the "sun stone." It subsequently represents Cancer, the astrological sign which takes place in the Northern hemisphere's summer months. This has to do with the gem's bright yellow and orange hue, thought to represent the sun.
The Magic of Amber
There are also some strong associations between amber and magical properties. Since the gem has such strong capabilities for attraction and repelling certain energies, magic workers have been known to wear amber for centuries. In fact, in ancient times, amber was so revered that only magic workers, those with power, or those held in high societal regard could wear the gem.
Amber in The Odyssey
One example of this selective possession can be found in The Odyssey, an epic poem composed in the 8th century BC by Homer. Penelope, a character in the work, has many suitors seeking to win her hand. To do so, they all clamor to gift her with extravagant and expensive gifts to gain her affection.
Servants were sent to collect gifts on behalf of their masters. One servant, Eurymachus, retrieves an amber necklace. Homer writes: "Eurymachus received a golden necklace, richly wrought, and set with amber beads, that glowed as if with sunshine."
This shout out to amber in the 8th century BC is a testament to the gem's status as a highly sought after jewel. It also shows just how long amber's been around. When you wear an amber necklace, you're likely sporting the same sort of necklace that the likes of Cleopatra and Penelope wore back in the day!
The Science of Amber
Know the word "electricity?" Of course, you do. Did you know that the word was based on the Greek word "elektron," which means amber?
Amber has frictional electricity properties, which probably contributed to the magic associated with the gem. If you want to test this property, take a piece of amber and rub it against silk or wool. The amber will actually become electrically charged.
Chinese cosmology supports the electric properties of amber, too. According to this methodology, there are five elements, the fifth of which is metal (an electricity conductor). Perhaps serendipitously, Akashic belief also holds amber as their fifth element due to its capability to hold an electric charge!
The Power of Amber Jewelry
If you want to harness the powerful effects amber can have on your mind, body, and soul, make sure you're purchasing real amber in your next necklace or pair of earrings. There's a lot of synthetic amber out there, so purchase from a reputable jewelry company!
Have questions about amber symbolism or the benefits of another stone? Get in touch! We can talk jewelry all day!