Amber
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Basic Information

Amber is a biologically derived precious "stone" which consists of fossilised tree resin. Most forms of amber are clear - or at least translucent - and of a shade between orange and brown although some sources can also produce a pale creamy material ("bone amber" caused by air bubbles) or black (due to pyrite inclusions). Even rarer is blue amber - apparently due to hydrocarbon inclusions. Due to its source, amber can sometimes also include small animals or plant fragments encased within the original resin and then preserved during the fossilisation process.

Being relatively soft, amber can easily be cut and shaped into jewelry and other objects and then buffed into a shine. Historically it has been widely traded with material from the rich sources in the Baltic being shipped all over Eurasia.

Besides decorative uses, amber has also been burned as an incense and used as a component in traditional medicine. It also gives its name to electricity (from the Gk. ─ôlektron - "amber") due to its facility for building up a static electric charge when rubbed.

Sources

Bibliography
1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

  • The Making of England series by Stewart Binns features a recurring amulet made of amber with a fossilised insect inside it, believed by its wearers to be an imprisoned demon. Obviously something like this could easily be true in a fantasy setting.
  • And then there was the dinosaur DNA extracted from a amber-fossilised mosquito in Jurassic Park. Apparently the demon is more feasible.
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