This fossilized resin of prehistoric trees was formed 30 to 50 million years ago. It is recovered from the stratified layers of marine sediments turned to sedimentary rocks. Trees wounded by fires would produce healing resin to bandage the wounds. The resin would spill down to the ground picking up everything in its path from botanical flora to tiny animals. Then after burial by sediments and the passage of millions of years, the resin slowly fossilized.

When studied today by paleozologists and paleobotanists, amber with inclusions yields a great deal about the evolution of some plants and small animals, such as ants. Also trapped were bubbles which contained gases that gave strong clues as to the earth’s atmosphere at the time the amber was formed. Most of it was found in the Baltic region.

Amber goes as far back as 5000 B.C. It regained its popularity between 1895 and 1920, only second to diamond in U.S. imports at that time. It experienced a resurgence recently with the advent of Jurassic Park.

Cos Altobelli, is a third generation jeweler and president of Altobelli Jewelers in Burbank, previously located in North Hollywood for 60 years. His specialty is appraising for all functions and acting as an expert witness.

He holds a graduate degree from the Gemological Institute of America and the title of Certified Gemologist Appraiser, from the American Gem Society, is the author of three appraisal books, and has appeared on “Prime Time Live” several times.

Mr. Altobelli can be reached at (818) 763-5151.

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All that Glitters

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