Amber Colors: What Are the Different Colors of Amber

Amber comes in more colors than just yellow and golden. It might also be white, yellow, and orange to reddish brown. Connoisseurs value reddish amber more than golden amber. Rare pieces can even be blue or green.

Amber is an amorphous, hardened material made from a mixture of organic compounds including carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. More than 40 other compounds, including succinic acid, potassium, sodium, iron and others occur in Amber mixtures, and have combined over time with the preserved resin of ancient pine trees. 

Amber is a fossilized resin, not tree sap. Sap is the fluid that circulates through a plant's vascular system, while resin is the semi-solid amorphous organic substance secreted in pockets and canals through epithelial cells of the plant.

Amber Colors- Colors of Amber
Amber Colors

The fossil resin becomes incorporated into sediments and soils, which over millions of years change into rock such as shale and sandstone.

Therefore, amber is formed as a result of the fossilization of resin that that takes millions of years and involves a progressive oxidation and polymerization of the original organic compounds, oxygenated hydrocarbons.

Colors of Amber

Types of Amber. One method of classifying amber is by color and degree of transparency. This criteria correlates to an optical classification of amber varieties. Colors of amber include yellow, orange, red, white, brown, green, bluish, and "black" (dark shades of other colors).

Amber Colors: What Are the Different Colors of Amber?
Amber Colors: What Are the Different Colors of Amber?

Amber color variety consists of 6-7 main colors. These include butterscotch, lemon, cognac, honey, green, cherry (black) and white. The degree of transparency varies in amber from clear to cloudy. Clear amber is transparent and usually ranges from pale yellow to dark reddish yellow. Cloudy amber can be semi-transparent to opaque, a variety of colors and separated into terms such as fatty, bone (or osseous) or foamy (or frothy).

Yellow - Orange (Honey)

Yellow Amber
Baltic Yellow Amber

Yellow Amber is the most prevalent type of amber, known for its vibrant yellow color, ranging from pale lemon to deep gold. Depending on the lighting and clarity, it can appear slightly orange-tinged, fitting the "honey" description.

For most people who know little about amber, yellow-orange color associates the most with this gemstone. This color amber is also very common and it accounts for two thirds (~70%) of all pieces found. Amber comes in a lighter color (yellow) when there are tiny bubbles inside this resin. These bubbles are able to defract the light and as a result amber is formed in lighter shade. In cases when there are fewer of these bubbles, amber comes in slightly darker shades that are similar to orange color. Yellow amber color was highly valued throughout the years and people considered it as a stone of sun.


Cognac-Amber from the Baltic Sea

Cognac-amber is a specific type of amber with a rich, deep brown color. It's named after the famous French brandy, Cognac.

This color of amber is quite similar to yellow-orange; however it has slightly darker tone. Cognac color of amber is commonly preferred by buyers, because it match well with silver and other jewelry materials. There are also a few different shades of this color distinguished - light and dark cognac. Compared to other amber types, Cognac-amber tends to be slightly harder and more durable, making it a good choice for jewelry and other decorative objects.

Origin: Cognac-amber is primarily found in the Baltic Sea region, particularly along the coasts of Lithuania, Poland, and Russia.

Green Amber

green amber
Rough green amber from Dominican Republic

Green amber is a captivating variety of amber with a rich, greenish hue. This particular color of amber was formed when resin from the trees fell near different plants. Chlorophyll, which is a pigment found in plants, reacted with resin and this is how some amber became green. Also some parts from the plants became trapped inside the resin, which influences the color as well. This particular color amber can vary from light to dark green, but in most cases it is quite similar to olive oil. Throughout the years, green amber was associated with good luck and it was even believed that it can bring immortality.

Origin: Primarily found in Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Nicaragua, with a much younger age compared to Baltic amber (around 1 million years old).

Formation: The green color comes from minerals like glauconite or chlorite present in the resin during fossilization.

Blue Amber

Blue (dominican) amber.
Rare Blue (dominican) amber.

Blue amber is a captivating and rare variety of amber that exhibits a mesmerizing blue coloration. Blue amber is the rarest variety of amber, primarily found in the Dominican Republic, with smaller deposits in Indonesia and Mexico. Under artificial light, blue amber often appears like ordinary amber, with warm hues of yellow and orange. But under sunlight or ultraviolet (UV) light, its true magic comes alive. The amber glows with an intense fluorescent blue, almost like it's radiating its own inner light.

Origin: While rare, blue amber is primarily found in the Dominican Republic, particularly near the city of Santiago. Smaller deposits have also been discovered in Indonesia and Mexico.

Formation: Its blue color is not due to a natural pigment, but rather a phenomenon called fluorescence. Specific hydrocarbons within the amber absorb ultraviolet light, then re-emit it as visible blue light, creating the mesmerizing glow.

Red Amber

Red Amber
Red Amber

Red Amber is another beautiful and rare variety of amber, distinguished by its captivating red hues. The shades of this color can vary from orange to even very dark red. In order for amber to be formed in a red color, it needed to stay in the air for a long period of time. Circumstances like heat of the sun, forest fires and natural oxidation process resulted in some amber obtaining particularly red color. In order to notice any changes in amber color due to these natural processes a lot of time is needed. Usually it can take even up to 100 years to see any difference in color without using artificial heating. Due to its rarity and potential mystical powers red amber was highly valued in japan. It was even featured in shosoin treasures and it was referred to as dragons blood.

Formation: Natural oxidation: Over millions of years, exposure to air and sunlight can cause the amber to undergo a natural oxidation process, resulting in red coloration. This is the most common way red amber forms.

Black Amber

Black Amber
Black Amber from Indonesia

Black Amber is a fascinating and rare variety of amber with a deep, almost inky black color. It's not actually a true amber, but a fossilized resinoid, meaning it formed from the hardened sap of ancient trees that contained more organic material and plant debris compared to regular amber. Black amber also frequently includes inclusions, such as fossilized insects, plant fragments, or bubbles, adding to its intrigue and character.

Formation: Unlike most amber, which comes from coniferous trees, black amber originates from the resin of hardwood trees that grew millions of years ago. This resin interacted with minerals and organic matter in the surrounding soil, leading to its dark color and unique composition.

Butterscotch Amber

Butterscotch amber with milky inclusions: There may be a less common variety of amber with a naturally butterscotch-like color due to specific organic matter within the resin. If it contains milky inclusions, like gas bubbles or white mineral deposits

This color of amber can be dark yellow or even white (with various hues). It is very common for butterscotch amber to have natural embellishments and various patterns. During some times this color wasn't very common, which resulted in high price. Since only rich people were able to afford it, it was quite commonly referred to butterscotch amber as royal. Nowadays larger quantities of this color of amber are being found so the price is affordable for most buyers.

White Amber

White Amber
White Amber

White Amber is a rare and valuable variety of amber with a pale, almost milky white color. It's not truly white, but rather a pale yellow that appears white due to air bubbles and inclusions within the amber.

It is possible to find various patterns and other color inclusions. One quite unique aspect of white amber is that it is slightly lighter than other colors. Due to this reason, this color of amber can float even in fresh water. In ancient times it was even believed that particularly white amber has healing properties. Due to this white amber was one of the components for making medicine to treat hear conditions.

All colors of amber contain the same amount of succinic accid. So the argument that some colors of amber can provide more benefits over the others is simply not true. So if you are wondering what shade & color of amber to choose, your choice should mostly rely on your color preferences.

Formation: This distinct color is caused by the presence of microscopic gas bubbles or water particles trapped within the fossilized resin. These tiny air pockets scatter light, giving the amber its milky appearance.

Origin: White amber is primarily found in the Baltic Sea region, particularly along the coasts of Lithuania, Poland, and Russia.


See also:
Different Types and Colours of Moonstone
The Different Beryl Varieties
Types of Opal With Photos

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