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Baltic Amber Jewelry
Amber is a rare semi-precious gem. It is actually not a stone, gem or mineral but the fossilized resin (not sap) of giant coniferous trees, larger than our present-day redwoods, which lived from 40 to 65 million years ago. At the time, the region where these trees grew was within a sub-tropical temperate climate, and primeval forests grew plentifully.
scientists have named the now-extinct tree Pinus Succinifera. While
it is believed that most Baltic amber resin found today originated with
these trees, the actual chemical composition varies and it may have come
from any number of species of trees including deciduous ones. According
to the experts, true amber is only found in the Baltic Sea; however
“amber” from dozens of other countries is sold, even though officially it
should be called copal or gums. Often this “amber” is actually a much
younger resin we call gums or copal and come from tropical regions such as
The Dominican Republic in the
Columbia, Burma and New Zealand. Much of this amber comes from bean trees
and does not have the fine qualities that Baltic Amber possesses.
trees produce excess resin as part of their natural lifecycle (think
cherry trees if you’ve ever seen one with sticky reddish sap on the trunk
or pine trees). Through cataclysmic events (flash floods, volcanic
eruptions, tsunamis), the trees and the resin becomes buried in oxygen
poor environments – eventually being buried so deep that heat from the
planet’s core and intense pressures form it into what we know as Amber.
organic part of the tree eventually decays but due in part to its
plastic-like polymers and anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, the
resin under certain circumstances is “fossilized”, however it is not
actually replaced by minerals like most fossils.
Essentially amber is
natures' plastic - it is fully polymerized - that is, all the liquid
components have been eliminated (condensation
Certain varieties of this “young” amber, properly called copal or gums may also be worked like amber but usually have inferior characteristics. Insect inclusions in Baltic Amber are quite rare – about one in every 10,000 pieces whereas insect inclusions in tropical (younger) copals are closer to one in ten pieces.
Imagine a redwood forest today – very quiet, with few animals and
insects. Now imagine the opposite – a tropical rainforest and you can
understand why insects in Baltic amber are so much rarer! Those found in
Baltic amber are usually tiny and all alone while pieces from the tropics
typically are larger and have lots of insects in a single piece. Everyone
thinks of Jurassic Park when they hear about Amber, and while yes, the
insects are largely preserved intact for millions of years, it is
questionable and improbable that DNA (even fragments) can be preserved
over such long time periods. Some scientists have claimed finding DNA,
but most have been contaminated samples.
Scott of Zanzibar Tribal Art first discovered amber and its allure on a trip to Poland back in the early 1990s. Scott made his first buying trip to Lithuania in 2005 and a small percentage of our Amber is from here – esp. the faceted pieces (which is a closely guarded secret as to how it is done!) Prior to World War II, amber was commonly available in the west; following the closure of Russia and Poland during the Cold War, Amber became very scarce. With the fall of the Iron Curtain amber is once again coming from the Baltic in modest quantities. Though quality varies, we hand select all of the amber pieces we offer, assuring only the highest quality. We attempt to sell only natural ambers and avoid heat treated, linseed oil boiled, dyed, recombined, pressed or other treated ambers that are commonly offered by other sellers. Buyer beware! If we see 100 clients wearing "amber" entering our store, 99 out of those 100 are wearing fake amber!
Most of our amber is crafted by several small family-owned workshops in the seaside community of Gdansk in northern Poland with some pieces also from two family run workshops in Lithuania. We hand-pick about 75% of our pieces on buying trips and the remaining 25% we leave to our artisans to create and send to us.
Most of our inventory is made of one-of-a-kind pieces.
CARING FOR & CLEANING YOUR AMBER JEWELRY:
Care should be taken when wearing and or cleaning your amber jewelry, as amber is a soft fine gemstone and can be damaged by improper wear or the use of gritty cleaning pastes or ultrasonic cleaners.
It is not brittle or fragile but should be treated with the respect it deserves! You should treat your amber jewelry as you would a fine piece of jewelry: Do not strike it against hard surfaces and do not drop it. You should avoid wearing rings while washing your hands or doing dishes and remove amber jewelry before showering, bathing or swimming – water doesn’t harm the amber but soap and chlorine does.
Keep it out of sunlight when not being worn. Sweat and oils can also cloud amber so it should be removed during workouts.
We recommend polishing the silver part of the jewelry with a soft jeweler’s cloth to keep tarnish down. You can also gently wash away dirt and grime from the amber with the same cloth, lightly moistened or under running water (dry with a soft cloth).
Do use ionic cleaners (not sonic cleaners).
Do NOT use jewelry cloths with polishing compounds (it might scratch the amber).
Do not use chemical cleaners or a mechanical sonic or ultrasonic cleaning machine to clean your amber jewelry.
Zanzibar Tribal Art