Pernell, Mazel. Santo Domingo: Discovering the Colonial Zone and Beyond . GuideGecko. Edición de Kindle.
Amber is the national gem of the Dominican Republic. In the privately-owned Amber World Museum, you’ll find complete scientific and historical exhibits of the stone. You can also purchase the gem in the museum’s boutique.
The Amber World Museum is in an exquisite Victorian building facing onto Parque Colón. Inside you’ll find a wide selection of amber pieces protected behind glass doors. There is audio-visual and interactive technology that helps visitors understand the history, formation and characteristics of amber.
Amber is actually sap that oozed out of prehistoric trees 30 million years ago. As the resin inched down the tree, insects such as mosquitoes, grasshoppers, spiders, and flies as well as leaves, flowers and other bits of flora and fauna became included in the sap. Over the millennium the sap and the inclusions fossilized into a light, transparent rocklike stone. Fortunately, not all amber pieces have insects and other odd specimen ensnared inside.
Scientists have discovered that they can investigate the DNA of specimen trapped in the amber resin and obtain biological clues to their origins. In fact, sci-fi aficionados will remember that scientists in the movie Jurassic Park were able to recreate dinosaurs from DNA found in the blood of a mosquito that had been fossilized in amber. That, of course, is the Hollywood version. Scientists say that the idea is a little far-fetched but still a strong possibility for DNA fossilized from more recent extinct species.
While most amber is gold or honey colored with brown tones, the gem can also be found in shades of yellow, green, red, black or the very rare blue amber. It is considered a semi-precious gem and can be found in different parts of the world. The amber found in the Dominican Republic is recognized as the most transparent and the most beautiful with a higher frequency of trapped specimen.
Dominican amber mines are found between the mountain ranges of Santiago and Puerto Plata at elevations of 700 – 1,500 meters (about 2,300 – 4,900 feet).
The Museum of Amber also sells larimar, black coral, local gold and pearls. CAUTION – Black coral is protected by CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. So before purchasing the gem, you should check to see if you’ll be allowed to take it into your country.
You’ll find an abundance of amber in the shops along Calle El Conde. Just beware of fakes. Some shops and street vendors pawn amber-colored plastic as the real thing or lesser quality amber in a cheap setting. It’s better to purchase from the better jewelry shops or the Amber World Museum boutique. Also, be aware that it’s against the law to export rough, unpolished pieces of amber.