The history of amber can be traced back to more than 100 million years ago. Burmese amber is the king of amber, and high-quality golden blue amber, blood amber, beeswax, etc. can also be mined in the ancient “Laochangkou”. The big picture on this page is the border between China and Myanmar. Myanmar, which is located between the two major plates, has superior geographical conditions and has nurtured precious organic gems.
As we have learned from the amber mining areas in Myanmar, different types of amber can be excavated in different mining areas, field openings, and different depths. So how wonderful is Burmese amber?
Simply put, amber is fossil resin. Hundreds of millions of years ago, trees such as coniferous and araucaria, due to high temperature, high humidity, or external forces such as pests and natural disasters, flowed out a large amount of resin for self-protection. These resins have undergone geological processes such as burial, deposition, and transportation over a long period of time, and gradually become transparent or translucent fossils. At the same time, due to different geological, climate, age and other conditions, amber can show different colors and shapes.
Burmese amber is by far the hardest variety of amber from different origins in the world; it is the only organic gemstone that enjoys the title of “burmite” hard amber. It is also the oldest amber with recorded history in the world. In itself, it is an epic of the earth’s geological evolution.
“Big man”, why is the high hardness Burmese amber the oldest?
Some experts have studied the differences in the plant sources of amber origin and amber varieties in many places in the world. Their analysis using nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy revealed that Burmese amber is fossilized from the resins of the Araucaria and Pinaceae plants in the Gymnosperm phylum. This plant is closer to today’s shell shirts and Chilean South American shirts, and now only exists in the southern hemisphere.
In the commercial trading circle of amber in Myanmar, amber from the four major amber mining areas of Shipigong, Denai, Kandy and Tiling often appear. The two areas have been excavating amber for a long time, and most of them can mine high-quality golden blue amber, blood amber, beeswax, etc., especially the beeswax excavated at the mouth of Denai. The two new mines of Kandy and Tilin are more prolific in gold blue amber and blood black tea amber.
Professor Shi Guanghai from the School of Jewelry, China University of Geosciences (Beijing), through the analysis of zircon in the amber pyroclastic rocks and mudstones of the Hukang River Valley, concluded that Burmese amber was formed in the early Late Cretaceous 99 million years ago, when dinosaurs were still not extinct). The amber in the “Tiling” area is younger, and its tuff age is the late Late Cretaceous, 72 million years ago. In 2020, Dr. Xing Lida of China University of Geosciences (Beijing) and others studied the age of the amber produced in the Kandi mining area of Myanmar, and the age obtained from the tuffaceous rock layer was 110 million years, which is the last stage of the Early Cretaceous. Most of the amber from other origins in the world was formed between 40 million and 60 million years ago. Compared with Burmese amber, it is very “young”.
From the perspective of genesis, the Myanmar plate is located between the Indian plate and the Eurasian plate, and geological activities are more frequent. During the Cretaceous period, it was a concentration of volcanoes. Therefore, amber is subjected to relatively high pressure and high degree of oxidation during the formation process, which plays a decisive role in the hardness and color of amber.
In terms of bulk, there are often some jaw-dropping “big men” in Burmese amber: in 2018, at the opening ceremony of the sub-venue of Shenzhen Songgang Amber Trading Market, a rough Burmese amber stone weighing 199 kilograms was exhibited; There is also a transparent dark red Burmese amber weighing 15.195 kilograms in the collection of the Natural History Museum in London. Block rough stones of about one kilogram are common in Myanmar mining areas, but very rare in other amber producing areas in the world. This has a lot to do with the vast forests of the Hukang River Valley, and the amber is less transported by external forces such as wind and water in the later stage of formation.
Jeweler Chu Fan said: In recent years, there have also been many large pieces of amber rough into the hands of merchants. A few years ago, a Burmese amber dealer sent a few photos of a huge rough amber stone for sale. As an organic gemstone, the density of amber is much lower than that of other gems and jades. The formation and preservation of huge single block amber is an extremely rare thing in itself. A few domestic amber merchants came together and asked a partner who is good at “cutting bracelets” to go to Myanmar to see the goods.
At that time, this piece of amber wool over 130 kilograms only had a “small window”, and through the strong light, it could be seen that there were no fatal small cracks in the amber. So, they spent millions to buy this rough stone into China. “This amber has a very beautiful green tea color after the outer skin is cut, and the pieces are large. After careful division and cutting by professionals, more than 70 perfect Burmese amber bracelets of different sizes and 60 to 70 pieces are cut out. Amber carvings, countless hanging ornaments with natural shapes, etc. “Just these countless leftovers have sold for more than 200,000 yuan. “Chu Fan said silently.
The evolution of thousands of years behind the colorful geology
Burmese amber is the most colorful amber in the world. The amber excavated from each production area and mine in the Hukang River Valley may be affected by different geological conditions such as the formation temperature and pressure environment, and the color rendering is different.
In addition to the “shadow opal” mentioned in ancient medical books, which is black to the naked eye and bright red when the light penetrates, there are also bright and bright blood opal, gold opal, brown red, golden brown, willow green, tea opal, etc. Many colors.
With the development of Myanmar amber business activities, in March 2018, the Yunnan Provincial Bureau of Quality and Technical Supervision issued the local standard of “Myanmar Amber”, which is based on the color, internal structure or internal structure of Myanmar amber under natural and transparent colors. Inclusions, which are classified in series. Among them, according to color, Burmese amber is divided into 7 categories and 21 subcategories of brown amber, gold amber, blood amber, tea amber, root amber, beeswax, and phase amber.
Some trees shed resin to protect themselves from external forces. After tens of millions of years of evolution, resin became the amber that people love today. The picture on the left page shows the resin flowing out, and the picture on the right page shows more than 130 kilograms of amber wool received by Chu Fan, the founder of Zhushiji Jewelry.
There are two types of willow green and green tea in Burmese amber, which have a green hue discernible to the naked eye. On a white background, in some golden aloes, the golden yellow tone begins to appear green gradually, and gradually deepens, showing yellow-green and brown-green. This is the famous Liu Qingpao. However, if this green amber can still show a faint pinkish purple or blue-green on a black background; if it has a moderate degree of blue-white, blue-violet or blue-green fluorescence under long ultraviolet light, then this amber will be classified again. Similar to green tea amber.
And so on, amber with special optical effects: the same amber produces different colors under different backgrounds of natural light and black and white, which is called “chameleon” by merchants. In addition, amber also has the effect of “retaining light”, which has also attracted the attention of countless researchers.
”Remaining light”, also known as “phosphorescence”, is an optical effect unique to Burmese amber: in a dark environment, irradiate with a strong flashlight, or touch the amber across the surface, turn off the flashlight, and be irradiated The light can still be seen in the past position. It can also be understood as “light can stay in amber for a few seconds”. Different ambers have different luminous intensity and light retention time, but the longest is only a few seconds. A paper published in 2020 pointed out that the light retention effect of Burmese amber is due to the high content of sulfur and calcium elements in it, which form substances with long afterglow luminescence characteristics under certain temperature and pressure conditions. , such as calcium sulfide. When this substance reaches a certain amount, it will cause the amber to have a light retention effect.
Genpo is a unique variety of Burmese amber. Because it contains calcite (calcium carbonate), the hardness of Genpo is the highest among many Burmese amber. It is named for its color and structure like the roots of trees, and its internal structure is generally fibrous and mottled. The colors are mostly composed of two or more colors, such as dark brown, brown, brown, tan, light yellow, white, gray-white, gray-green, etc., to form a unique pattern like tree rings. The patterns of some Genpo are magnificent and colorful, giving people unlimited imagination space, and they are the ingenious carving materials that are deeply loved by craftsmen.
In addition, there is a category of genper that is subdivided into “karst burr”. In this species, calcite does not penetrate into the entire piece of amber, resulting in both opaque root amber and transparent gold or brown-red amber parts – like a cave hidden in the amber. It is especially suitable for skillful carving. Most of the products have a strong oriental cultural charm and are very popular among collectors.
Far more than aesthetic records of life fragments hundreds of millions of years ago
In addition to the aesthetic value brought by the changeable color and optical response, Burmese amber has played a pivotal role in paleontological research – they have solidified many insects, plants, offshore marine life and even vertebrates in the Cretaceous period. They are “time capsules” that have traveled through hundreds of millions of years.
Burmese amber, among the Cretaceous amber in the world, has the most abundant and diverse insect and vertebrate inclusions, and completely preserves the fragments of biological evolution from the Mesozoic to the Cenozoic.
This kind of amber with inclusions is collectively referred to as “plant amber” or “worm amber”. A large number of amber production gives people the opportunity to discover batches of extinct ancient plants and creatures, and spy on the real Cretaceous world.
The species of insects contained in Burmese amber are very different from those present today, and some are even extinct in the late Cretaceous period. At the same time, the diversity of various biological groups in Burmese amber is extremely high. Lizards and other groups that are extremely rare in other origins have been recorded in Burmese amber from time to time. By the end of 2018, scientists had discovered and named a total of 1,192 new species of plants and animals from Myanmar amber.
Scientists have collected numerous vertebrate amber specimens and invertebrate amber specimens produced in Myanmar. In addition to the limbs of ancient birds and non-avian dinosaurs, they also include various ancient bird feathers or dinosaur feathers, lizards and An extremely difficult snake to preserve in fossil form.
By studying the rich inclusions in amber, scientists have simulated what the continent of Burma looked like during the Cretaceous period: a huge forest near ancient oceans and often in a hot climate. Tall cedar and coniferous plants grow in the forest.
Under the shelter of these plants, ferns, mosses and even mushrooms grow in low places; flowers with a diameter of only 1 mm are being pollinated; various mosquitoes, flies, bees, ants, beetles and other insects are preying on, breeding, Laying eggs; spiders, scorpions, centipedes, horses and other arthropods crawling around; there are many lizards and even snakes and vertebrates in the forest preying on; feathered anti-birds fight in the forest, so that The tail feathers fell into the woodland… On the coast, dragonflies and mayfly larvae, prawns, ostracods, ammonites and other aquatic creatures appeared, and there were sea shoots, crinoids, oysters, corals in the sea
… More details of life can be found. A beetle crawled into the resin that was about to solidify, struggled desperately but broke its leg and died in depression; a huge spider just caught a mosquito, stretched out its claws to prepare to eat, but was hit by the resin that just dripped. middle; a small crab was wrapped in flowing resin and sealed by time; a heavy rain, raindrops smashed into the sticky resin, until it was discovered, the drop of rain was still sealed in amber, translucent in the already petrified amber Rolling back and forth… Hundreds
of millions of years ago, everything that was noisy and full of vitality was wrapped in layers of amber and preserved to this day.