Amber – a gift from the Gods

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Amber – a gift from the Gods

Amber is a wonderful and beautiful gem, it remains magical, mystical and like honey – a gift from the gods.

Amber is an opaque or translucent fossilised natural resin from an extinct variety of pine tree.   When around 60 million years ago the pine resin oozed out of the trees, it covered everything in its path – like insects and flora – and over the millions of years it underwent a number of changes.



To the Phoenicians Amber was a prime commodity whilst Etruscans used it for making jewellery.   It was said during the days of the Roman Empire that amber was more valued than a living slave and in medieval times the amber industry was ruled by the Teutonic Knights.

Greek legend said that Apollo wept tears of amber when he was banished from Olympus.   They also discovered that amber can acquire a static electric charge when rubbed and so the word electricity is derived from electrum the Greek name for amber.



It was during the Art Nouveau period of the early 20th century that amber started to be enjoyed for its decorative effect rather than for its intrinsic value, and in the 1950’s a bright bead craze, including ropes of amber saw the stone in the fashion spotlight.

Poland is the biggest source of amber and it there that we obtain the vast majority of our amber jewellery.    I always try to keep a wide range dealing directly with small independent polish suppliers who produce unique one off pieces.

Whilst some amber is mined it is generally considered that the highest quality pieces are those washed up on the Baltic beaches so for some amber hunting or searching is a way of life.


The best season for this is spring and autumn as storms can wash the stones ashore.   They say it is most productive to start in the early morning using a torch and net whilst others believe that watching where seagulls collect will lead them to the rewarding spots.

The city of Gdańsk is widely recognised as the global centre of the amber trade with the AI motorway which starts in the city also being known as the Amber Motorway.    There are even restaurants serving amber soup.

Amber can still find be found around our coastlines and a few local people still walk the Norfolk beaches and collect small amounts, especially after the winter storms have driven amber ashore.    This Norfolk Amber is the same as found in the Baltic and was probably transported towards Britain during the ice age by ice sheets moving out of southern Scandinavia.

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