Amber stone, also known as fossilised tree resin, has been valued for its beauty and significance for thousands of years. This stone has a long and rich history, with evidence of its use dating back to ancient civilizations such as the Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians. Baltic amber’s unique properties and aesthetic appeal have made it a highly prized material for medicine, history, jewelry and art. Therefore, it is curious to get to know in detail how the purpose and the attitude towards Baltic amber has changed during ages.
Baltic amber in the past
Genuine amber in medicine
That amber is a mineral with special powers was first noticed by the physician Hippocrates in 460 – 377 BC. Ave. Cr. Soon, more physicists and alchemists appeared, who also saw that genuine amber could have healing properties. In ancient times, it was believed that Baltic amber heals jaundice – it was said that its yellowish colour can remove the disease, reduce yellowing from the body. Amber extract was used to strengthen the immune system, apply on wounds and bruises, and its oil was used to rub sore parts of the body. Colds, asthma, thyroid and heart ailments were treated with amber necklaces, and rheumatism with bracelets. In the East, people believed that genuine amber incense strengthens the spirit. In the 17th century optical instruments were made from amber: spectacle lenses, magnifying glasses, even the first pair of contact lenses. In the 20th century, vessels used for blood transfusions were made of amber, because it best maintained the required blood temperature. During World War II, mainly in Germany, genuine amber necklaces were used to ease teething pain and strengthen growing teeth.
Baltic amber as jewelry and decoration
In ancient Rome, genuine amber amulets were worn not only as a protection during war, but also as a guardian against diseases and madness. The ancient Greeks and Romans highly valued amber and created jewelry, special rings portraying women’s heads, cupids and used to call amber the “Gold of the North”. For example, in Rome, it was possible to exchange a small amber statuette for a strong, healthy slave. Baltic amber, with insects trapped inside, was especially prized and often exchanged for 120 swords. The Amber Road, which existed in the past, was an integral part of the trade of that time, intended to transport amber from the shores of the North and Baltic Seas to Italy, Greece, Egypt. It is believed that the crowns of Egyptian pharaohs were decorated with genuine amber. The tradition of burying the dead with amber objects, which had a protective, symbolic meaning, started in the II century and continued until the end of the Stone Age. In the early Middle Ages Baltic amber was mostly used for utilitarian religious accessories (crosses, rosaries). A little later, amber began to be used for magic and decoration purposes. It was combined with enamel and glass beads, used for necklaces, decorating brides’ veils. It is also known that Italian violin makers such as Stradivarius and Guarneri have used varnish mixed with genuine amber to cover the surface of violins.
Tendencies of genuine amber jewelry in Lithuania
The first amber accessories – from the Neolithic period – were various necklaces, buttons, figures of animals and people, which could serve as amulets. Most often, the products of that time were decorated with dots, cut into segments that symbolised the concept of the world. In later centuries Lithuanians started polishing Baltic amber in the shape of a gem, however amber with an inclusion inside was considered not to meet the standards. During the Soviet Union era, attempts were made to change the colour and shape of genuine amber, grind it into dust, melt it and pour the mass into moulds. This is how beetle, clog and cherry brooches were made, which were extremely popular in that period. It is known that nannies of that time liked to wear Baltic amber necklaces, believing that it protects them and the children, they look after, from diseases. Since 1957, thanks to several famous jewelers, the attitude towards amber accessories has changed. They became luxury, representational jewelry that ladies wore on special occasions. It is even said that ancient genuine amber products are sophisticated works of art used by people with a high material and spiritual cultural level.
One of the most famous uses of Baltic amber in the past was the 55 m2 amber room constructed in Prussia. It was a priceless work of art, which was made up of 450 kg of ornamented amber panels, precious stones, gilded decorations, mirrors. Due to its uniqueness, it was sometimes even called The Eighth Wonder of the World, but during World War II, it was mysteriously stolen and disappeared.
The use of Baltic amber for historians
To this day, amber inclusions are extremely important to scientists because of the insects and plant species trapped inside that disappeared many years ago. Small bird feathers, mammal hair, spikes, ants, leaves, pollen, mushrooms, ferns, mosses, chestnuts and other remains of flora are found in the inclusions. The most unique inclusion is attributed to the 99 million year-old tyrannosaurus feather trapped in amber.
Baltic amber nowadays
The value of genuine amber stone
Probably, every Lithuanian will find grandmother’s amber brooches or necklaces at home. During the Soviet Union era genuine amber products differ from modern ones, but are no less valued. Back in the Baltic times, amber was associated with the Baltic Sea, and during the restoration of independence – with Lithuania. Amber necklaces have become an integral part of the Lithuanian national costume and began to be decorated on a daily basis. Rare blue, green or white pieces are especially valuable to collectors. Baltic amber pieces with inclusions are also of great value. The rarer the plant or insect is trapped inside the amber, the more valuable the piece of amber. President A. Brazauskas was noted for his impressive Baltic amber collection. It has approximately 130 larger exhibits. The Mizgiris Amber Museum in Nida has a rich collection of rare amber and works of art. The largest marine amber in Lithuania – the Thunderstone, weighing 3,820 kg – is stored there.
Therefore, Baltic amber will always be a great investment as a priceless asset for future generations, a valuable piece of jewelry, a work of art or an amber nugget.
Baltic amber as an accessory
Baltic amber jewelry has been valued since ancient times and for this reason Lithuanians named it the gold of Lithuania. Both women and men, youth and children adorn themselves with genuine amber necklaces and bracelets. Most people know that Baltic amber and succinic acid have healing properties, so amber serves not only as a beautiful piece of jewelry, but also as a natural healing tool. Mothers put amber teething necklaces on babies to ease teething pain. For example, in France such necklaces are sold in pharmacies as a natural remedy. Genuine amber necklaces protect children from various viruses, bring calmness and improve sleep quality. Elderly people wear Baltic amber to relieve heart and thyroid ailments, joint pains. Furthermore, amber begins to be used to make pet collars. It is believed that it will protect animals from ticks and other parasites.
Probably, every Lithuanian can find at least a small souvenir with Baltic amber, be it a key ring or an amber rosary in the car. Amber is an integral part of Lithuania, it is also considered a stone of protection and luck. While on vacation by the Baltic Sea, both Lithuanians and foreigners buy amber trees, pieces of amber in a bottle or other souvenirs, bringing back at least a piece of Lithuanian gold from the seaside.
When it comes to current fashion tendencies of genuine amber accessories, black (cherry) amber bracelets and necklaces are on trend right now. Such accessories are particularly loved by young people. In order to promote Lithuanianness, Baltic amber is combined with Lithuanian symbolism or the Lithuanian tricolour. Red string bracelets with amber are also perceived as a fashionable accessory. It symbolises protection and luck and it is believed that such bracelets protect against misfortune, bad energy, the evil eye, and Baltic amber attracts success, love, health and prosperity. Older people prefer more classic models or the most valued Royal Amber. It is important for them to purchase a one-of-a-kind and unique product. Baltic amber is often combined with gold and silver and other stones – pearls, amethyst, rose quartz, agate, turquoise.
The use of Baltic amber for health and beauty
The variety of activities and procedures for which Baltic amber is used, is particularly wide in the field of health and beauty. For instance, it is a significant part of spa procedures and massages in Lithuania. The city of Palanga has the world’s only amber sauna. Baltic amber powder is used in the production of various creams and serums. Face rollers with natural amber are used for beauty. Succinic acid is sold in pharmacies as a food supplement.
Amber stone plays a big role in the interior or as a decoration. For example, paintings and lamps from genuine amber are used in the interior. Baltic amber shops in the capital often look like museums, where you can find amber jewelry of extraordinary size and beauty, amber boxes, chess, ships or even machine models.
During weddings, christenings or company anniversaries the amber dust ceremony is becoming more and more popular. The dust is thrown into the fire to wish for love, happiness and prosperity.
Attitude towards genuine amber of the youngest generation
‘Amber Heart’ has been organising educational activities for children about Baltic amber for a while. These activities made it clear that children (5-6 years old) already know that Baltic amber is called the gold of Lithuania and basic things about the Palanga Amber Museum, they also search for amber themselves when they are by the sea. Sometimes they even bring genuine amber which was found by them or their parents and make sure to show off their amber jewelry. The educational mission is to introduce children to Baltic amber, to show what a natural treasure Lithuania has and how amber has been valued since ancient times. When children make tabs decorated with Baltic amber beads (such beautiful tabs encourage reading books) and holiday decorations for Christmas or Easter (highlighting how important these holidays are to Lithuanians), they themselves touch the amber and are very happy to be able to take their creations back home.
Baltic amber wholesale since 2011.