Amber is the hardened, fossilized resin or sap of ancient pine trees. There are as many varieties of amber as there are types of pine tree. Natural amber can vary from dark brown to pale yellow, orange or even white, green, blue or violet. Due to the way it is formed, each piece of amber is unique and is likely to contain impurities. Normally with gemstones, these impurities or occlusions would lower the value, but with amber they enhance the beauty and uniqueness of the stone.
Amber, because of its color variations, goes well with any type of metal setting so amber earrings are available in sterling silver, yellow or white gold and platinum. As amber is not considered a precious stone and is not terribly expensive, amber earrings are most likely to be made in sterling silver and it is possible to buy a lovely pair for less than $50. However, it does take skill on the part of the jeweler to select 2 pieces of amber that match each other exactly in color and density to make a pair of earrings.
A dramatic look in amber earrings for either stud or drop styles, is to have several pieces of amber of different shades. Although we tend to think of the deep orange or copper colors when we think of amber jewelry, green amber is becoming very popular in modern jewelry designs.
Although it is not a particularly expensive material, there are still a lot of cheap imitations on the market. Amber floats in sea water so a good test for genuine amber is to see if it floats in salty water – most imitations will sink.
Amber jewelry was popular in Victorian times and many Victorian ladies wore amber earrings, however at the time the only amber that was considered desirable had no impurities, and definitely no fossilized bugs contained within it! The opposite is true today. It was even common in the past for amber to be melted down and remade into a purer version to remove any air bubbles or impurities.
Amber is a surprisingly unisex gem, it is just as likely to be found in earrings, rings or cufflinks for men as in pieces made exclusively for women. Most amber used for jewelry today comes from the Baltic where it can literally be picked up from the ground around the Baltic Sea. Because it floats in sea water, amber is often washed up on the beach.
Most amber earrings are made from polished amber, but there is also a trend now for raw amber to be made into jewelry just as it is. This can look very effective in small pieces in chandelier style earrings, where many small pieces of raw amber are used in a variety of colors. Because of its nature and composition, it is possible to make amber into little balls like pearls. These pearls or beads of amber look wonderful set in groups of different or similar colors in silver for amber earrings.