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Amber Earrings: More Than a Hollywood Plot Device

If you're conjuring a money making scheme that involves purchasing amber jewelry with the hope of finding insect remains to conduct some strange genetic experimentation then we hate to break it to you, but it's not going to work out. We can tell you, however, that the famed gemstone is more fascinating and much rarer than science fiction makes it seem.

Calling it a gem is a misnomer, so let's give you a little backstory: millions of years ago when the temperature was just right, sticky tree resin would get preserved in the earth and fossilize. Miners carved it from rock and marveled at its translucent brown color and smooth exterior, making it perfect for beaded bracelets. It goes back even further than that! The blind bard Homer spoke of amber earrings and gold as gifts in his epic tale The Odyssey. Contemporary amber jewelry often contrasts the stone's warm hues with sterling silver.

Today, amber can be found predominantly in the Dominican Republic and the Baltic Sea, the latter of which is older but the former has a greater likelihood of insect inclusions. In fact, over 1,000 extinct species have so far been found within the stone--but seriously, abandon the genetic experimentation scheme.