Show Summary Details

Page of

 Printed from Grove Art Online. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a single article for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy).

date: 18 August 2019

Amber(ii)locked

Extract

Fossilized, water-insoluble Resin, 20–120 million years old, which exuded from giant coniferous trees and became buried below them.

Amber is amorphous, of resinous lustre and usually found in small pieces: irregular lumps, grains, drops and stalactites. It feels warm, is lightweight and porous and may fluoresce naturally under daylight, especially when freshly extracted. Inclusions of organic matter—insects, crustacea (some now extinct), flora, bark etc—resulted from these being trapped in the liquid resin as it flowed downwards. When in contact with atmospheric air, its surface becomes oxidized and forms a crust. Transparent, opaque (due to an abundance of tiny bubbles) or osseous, it is commonly yellow to honey-coloured, but approximately 250 different colour varieties including white and black are known, the rarest being red, blue and green. On lengthy exposure to air, golden-yellow amber slowly darkens to red. Green amber is thought to have formed in marshy areas through inclusions of decaying organic material. When burnt or rubbed vigorously amber emits a resinous pine aroma, and friction causes it to produce static sufficient to pick up small particles of paper. It is soft and carves easily but can be brittle, and skill is required to prevent fracturing. It tends to craze when subjected to sustained and extreme heat. Imitations include Chinese dyed sheep’s ...

Access to the complete content on Grove Art Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.

C. Wood: Dictionary of Victorian Painters (Woodbridge, 1971, rev. 2/1978)