One of the most sought after items for sale in the Dominican Republic are collectible amber stones and amber jewelry. Amber is fossilized tree sap, which sometimes contains other fossils such as insects, leaves, and flowers preserved in perfect detail. You can actually view these fossil inclusions through the opaque amber.
Amber is recognized the world over as being one of the most beautiful natural substances and is sometimes referred to as a precious stone. It is often set in silver or gold. The Dominican Republic is one of two places in the world where significant quantities of amber have been found. The other place is the Baltic region in Eastern Europe, but Dominican amber is of much higher quality. However, Dominican amber hasn't been on the world market that long, so it tends to be a bit cheaper. Of course the price is rising rapidly as the demand increases by leaps and bounds; it would be best to buy it sooner than later.
If you buy a nice piece of Dominican amber jewelry at a fair price, it will almost certainly go up in value. Dominican amber is more clear with less bubbles than Baltic amber and it has many more exquisitely preserved inclusions. The biggest deposit of Dominican amber is found in the northern portion of the country in mountains that are so rugged, that the amber must be painstakingly mined by hand. This makes Dominican amber a limited commodity and thus more valuable.
You will find Dominican amber jewelry being sold in a variety of venues, including the amber museum in Santo Domingo, street vendors, and souvenir shops. You'll also find larger pieces that are suitable for display. The most expensive Dominican amber is the very rare "blue amber", which uniquely fluoresces a very beautiful shade of blue.
There are many imitations of amber, made from plastic, glass or other materials, but none of them can stay afloat in salt water. Another alternative to determine fakes is to expose the amber to black light. The real Amber lights up under phosphorescent light.
The name "Amber" comes from Arabic and means "floating in the sea", because this special property is what sets this gem apart from imitations. The Greeks discovered that the material had special properties when it was rubbed against other materials, and hence the etymology of the word "electricity" (Elektron) means amber.
Amber has a lot of color variations: most common is yellow, but there are orange, red, white, green, brown or black variations of this beautiful material. The red Amber found around the city of Chiapas is one of the most beautiful that exist, but the blue amber found in the northern parts of the Dominican Republic is considered the most beautiful, it is the most appreciated and reaches the highest values trade.
Countless ancient cultures believed in the magical properties of amber. In the past it was used in a neckless as a talisman against the "evil eye", weared around the neck of children. The Greeks discovered that it possessed special properties: when the amber was rubbed with other materials and hence the etymology of the word "electricity" Elektron means amber.
Since ancient times Amber was traded. The Phoenicians, already in the year 3000 B.C. traded their goods in Europe and in the Far East.