Natural amber is considered an organic gem stone. Amber has been traded since earliest times and was considered a mystic and religious material. Over the “amber routes”, it was distributed throughout Europe and all of the know ancient world. Already the Phoenicians traded amber as a prime commodity with the ancient Baltic peoples. Since about 3000 B.C., Baltic amber was exchanged for goods from southern Europe and there were even ‘amber highways’ or amber trade routes crossing Europe and leading into the Far East.
Meanwhile, in Central America, the Olmec civilization also was mining amber around 3000 B.C. There are legends in Mexico that mention the use of amber in adorning, consuming and using it for stress reduction as a natural remedy.
For thousands of years amber was regarded as a precious substance, and for its mysterious origin considered as a divine protection from harm to the bearer of amber jewelry. As such, it also became to be used as an ingredient in medicines and for religious purposes by “pagans” and “Christians”.
Around 58 A.D., the Roman Emperor Nero sent a Roman knight on a search for this “Gold of the North” and brought hundreds of pounds of amber to Rome.
In later days, from 1283 on, the Teutonic Knights, after returning from the crusades, became absolute rulers of Prussia and the Baltic sources of amber, as well as the manufacture of objects made of amber, punishing transgressors with death by hanging.
For the next 500 years, amber was used again for mainly a religious purpose: Rosary beads, used by Catholics and Moslems alike. When they arrived in 1492 at the Caribbean island of “La Hispaniola”, Columbus and his men were not interested in amber, but in gold and for this reason the existence of amber from the Dominican Republic was little known for a long time. But history tells us that Columbus received from a young Taino prince a pair of shoes, decorated with Dominican amber, in exchange for a strand of Baltic amber beads that he had offered.
The amber occurrences in the Dominican Republic are generally from the same time period as Baltic amber, give or take 10 million years. But Dominican amber has much more fossil inclusions of plants and small animals and for this reason is highly appreciated by scientists and collectors alike. More information.
At few places in the Dominican Republic, a kind of amber can be found that has a blue glow even in daylight: The famous Blue Dominican Amber. More information.