Amber As Cash

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Pablo Edronkin

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Betting and money are as old as human civilisation, and then some, as archaeological findings prove.

One of the elements used both as ornament as well as a valuable has been amber, since the dawn of mankind; particularly during the bronze age, but also since the Paleolithic, amber has attracted people and thus, became a worthy thing to have and exchange pretty quickly.

Amber is a relatively easy product to cut, grind, and polish; in other words, it could be worked on even with fairly primitive tools. It is more fragile and lighter than most precious stones - so we advice you to handle it with care if you happen to get one of those stones-, and it has a wonderful colour; the more translucent a piece of amber is, the more value it holds. Amber is the product of fossilization of conifer resins that began to appear in really great numbers after the end of the Cretaceous period, when the dinosaurs were suddenly extinct.

Conifers existed before, however, they began to appear in great numbers and vast forests were formed.These trees produced more resin that those found today, and thus, when they got hurt, resin protruded from their trunks and poured into the soil. Aristotle and Teophrastus were the first to study amber, and found out that was in fact, fossil resin.The biggest amber deposits are found in the shores of the Baltic Sea.

Amber chunks are often fund ashore, washed by the waves, and event the Romans organized expeditions to the area in other to harvest amber pieces. Recently, a room which was fully covered in amber, in one of the Russian imperial palaces was finally restored; it was destroyed and sacked during WWII.

In Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Russia, Sweden, Finland, Germany and Denmark is possible to find amber, although the coasts of Poland are by far the most productive. There it is possible to purchase good amber at good prices, and sell it for a significant difference elsewhere.

The city of Gdansk, in Poland, is an industrial and commercial port, but also a center for refining and processing of amber in large quantities. You can find this precious material in great blocks, some weighting up to 10 kilograms; naturally, the heavier the chunk, the more valuable the stone is, but this is relative because the final value is always influenced by the interior contents of the amber piece.

Sometimes it is possible to find perfectly conserved fossils embedded into amber; these are the remains of small arthropods, insects and even lizards that fell into the soup quite a few million years ago and were left like frozen inside.

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