Blue Amber From the Dominican Republic
found in the mountain ranges of the Dominican Republic, blue amber is amber that has a blue coloration that’s very rare in this type of stone. Usually it’s found in amber mines around Santiago, but can also be found in the eastern parts of the Dominican Republic. You may be surprised to learn of its existence, but the fact is that blue amber has been around since amber was discovered in the Dominican Republic.
What Makes It Blue?
There are actually several different ideas about why blue amber is colored the way that it is. One school of thought is that the blue is a result of fluorescent hydrocarbon, meaning that blue amber itself would be fluorescent (in that it emits light at a higher wavelength or lower energy, and glows blue). Despite this, the hydrocarbons haven’t actually been confirmed as being a part of blue amber, though it is significantly more fluorescent than regular amber.
Another school of thought says that blue amber only exists because of the extinction of a species of tree, and ultimately the fact that they didn’t combust all the way. Instead, they left behind traces of anthracene. Because this is only present in Dominican amber, some Mexican ambers, and some Indonesian ambers, this is considered a likely probability. You won’t find anthracene in other ambers, such as Baltic ambers, because the resin that was used to create the amber wasn’t from the tree that went extinct – the Hymenaea protera.
The thing about blue amber is that when it’s held underneath artificial light it looks exactly like regular amber. It’s only when it’s put in direct sunlight that it gives off a particularly intense blue fluorescent color. When you hold it up to the sun and look at it from that perspective, it will seem like ordinary amber, but underneath UV rays, it glows bright blue. In addition, it has aromatic molecules, meaning that it smells nice when it is being cut and polished.
Amber has a hardness of 2 – 2.5 on the Mohs scale, which is dependent on where the amber comes from and which mine it is mined in. For reference, gold has a hardness of 2.5-3. Also, here’s a little known fact – amber isn’t made by tree sap. Instead, it’s made by tree resin, which has different properties. Amber can take anywhere from 20 million to 200 million years to form, at which point it becomes copal, which is also called immature amber. Then it needs several more million years to become harder and actually become amber, in a process known as polymerization.Amber has a unique ability to show us a glimpse of the past, and blue amber is especially rare and beautiful. Though all amber is fluorescent, none is quite as impressive as the blue glow that blue amber gives off in direct sunlight – and you can only get it from the mines of the Dominican Republic.