Amber by Terry Guinn


Amber is a natural material. It is ancient tree sap, usually millions of years old. Since the time that it flowed from a cut in a tree millions of years ago, it has hardened, it has lost the "stickiness" that characterizes tree sap, and it has become a beautiful translucent semi-precious gem material. Amber is the fossilized resin of ancient trees which forms through a natural polymerization of the original organic compounds. Most of the world's amber is in the range of 30-90 million years old.

Mineralogists call amber succinite from the Latin succinum, which refers to the deep yellow/gold color common in amber (while yellow/gold is most common, Amber comes in a broad range of colors). Amber is flammable and when it burns, it giving off an almost incense-like aroma. This is why amber is in known as bernstein in German. Bernstein is a common German sir name; now you know where it comes from. Rubbing amber with a cotton cloth makes an electric charge. The Greek name for amber is elektron, from which we get the English word "electricity."

Very often, when amber was originally flowing tree sap, dirt and debris fell into it. Sometime, insects and even small animals became trapped by its stickiness. Most amber specimens have some dirt and debris in them. Many have pre-historic insects and, rarely, even animals perfectly preserved inside of them. Gemologists call these "inclusions."

Geologists and paleontologists covet amber specimens with insect and animal inclusions. Nowhere are the insects and small animals of millions of years ago better preserved than in amber. Even the air bubbles in amber, air trapped millions of years ago, can hold clues to the world's history.

Some cultures hold that amber has medicinal or spiritual qualities.

But, regardless of what else you think about it, amber is simply beautiful. It's is translucent and just seems to glow. It's a very popular choice for jewelry, but I haven't seen it much on knives.

As I'm sure Mr. Guinn will now tell you, there's a reason for that: amber is not the easiest material to work with.

For this knife, Mr. Guinn executed eight excellent inserts of amber, two on each side of each handle.


At first glance, this appears to be a latchless balisong. But, in fact, there is a latch. It's a most unique latch. It's a magnetic latch. Mr. Guinn has equipped each handle with a powerful magnet. The magnets face the opposite direction so that they attract each other and hold the knife open or closed.

The magnets are remarkably powerful and do an excellent job of holding the knife either open or closed.


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