Mexican Amber, World Renowned for Color and Durability

Posted By on September 5, 2016

In walking the streets of Playa del Carmen you’re bound to run into a jewelry store that sells amber. Mexican amber is some of the most sought after in the world for its color and durability. An anomalous double refraction, Mexican amber can be found from clear yellow to deep red. Untreated, it has been mined in diverse colors ranging from common yellow to wine, honey, cognac, blue and green, which is extremely rare.

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The stone has also been found in beautiful translucent shades of aqua and violet, however, Mexican amber is particularly well-known for its deep red, a color that is very rare in other amber-rich parts of the world.

Amber mined in Mexico is harder than most other ambers, making it less fragile and ideal for carving and making jewelry. Mexican amber is mined in the state of  Chiapas in southern Mexico, where the strata are estimated to be between 24 and 30 million years old.

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A group of men in Simojovel, Chiapas detail the amber after it’s been mined.

Amber mined in Mexico is not a mineral substance like most other gems, but instead, is formed from the ancient Hymeneal tropical trees, producing s a fossilized resin which gives it an organic quality. Some of the mined amber contains fossilized inclusions such as vegetation or insects from millions of years ago.

Mexican Amber with fossils

Although Mexican amber continues to be mined on a small-scale basis, it is emerging on the international market as an excellent material for jewelry and sculptures, increasing international interest.