Monday, 4 September 2017

Blue Amber

Blue amber is the rarest of all ambers. Less than 1% of all the amber recovered on earth is blue. When natural light strikes blue amber on a white surface, the light passes through, and is refracted by the white surface. The result is the slight blue hue of blue amber. When the same natural light strikes the amber on a black surface, the light is not refracted by the black surface, but by the actual amber. Hydrocarbons in the blue amber shift the sun's ultraviolet light down in frequency. This effect is only possible in some specimens of Dominican amber category, in some Mexican ambers from Chiapas and some ambers from Indonesia. Any other amber (such as Baltic amber) will not display this phenomenon, because its original resin is not from the Hymenaea protera tree.

The polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons relax to their ground state, absorb high-energy ultraviolet photons and re-emit them as lower-energy visible photons.
Under artificial light, the amber appears like ordinary amber, but under sunlight it has an intense fluorescent blue glow. When held against the sun it will appear like ordinary amber, and under ultraviolet light it will glow a bright milky-blue. Blue amber emits an agreeable smell (aromatic molecules), which is different from regular amber when it is being cut and polished
Dominican blue amber is mined through bell pitting, which is extremely dangerous. The bell pit is basically a foxhole dug with whatever tools are available. Miners crawl around on their hands and knees using short-handled picks, shovels and machetes.

Blue amber beads from the Dominican Republic