A Brief History of Baltic Amber
Amber delights the eye, warms the heart and excites the world's scientific imagination. Baltic amber was held dear by many ancient cultures, treasured both for its protective and decorative qualities. Inside of the amber, material and insects are often encapsulated, as well as strands of DNA – life’s basic code, which is why amber is often referred to as a “Window to the past”.
About 40-60 million years ago, subtropical trees from the region known as the amber forest (long extinct, known collectively as Pinus Succinifera) underwent drastic climate change, became stressed and began to weep copious amounts of resin.
Common inclusions in amber are plant materials such as oak leaf remnants or tiny hairs from oak buds, pollens, spores, leaves, twigs and most famously of all – insects. At least 214 plant species have been identified through morphological analysis of amber, a bounty of priceless data about the ancient world which but for the golden fist of amber’s preservation, would have been lost forever.
Over many aeons, this resin became fossilised and became known as amber, one of three known gems of vegetative origin (the others being jet, coral and diamond). As the lightest, softest and most fragile of all gems, amber was one of the first commercial products used for trade and the oldest form of jewellery is amber jewellery. Amber has a long and illustrious history as a coveted luxury item.
The amber route was a well-documented European trade equivalent to China’s silk road. Once a tiny piece of amber was worth the life of a slave. Amber graced the bridles of wild and wildly wronged beasts for Rome’s pleasure, was found in the tombs of pharaohs and burned as the richest incense as a gesture of opulence by Chinese emperors. Amber has long been revered as magical, medicinal, and sacred; a healing stone that represents a vessel of eternal life that above all, is extremely beautiful.