Baltic Amber is the finest amber in the world and as its name indicates, it is found in and around the Baltic Sea. It has a 40 million year history. Hard to believe but that is how long it takes to make amber.
Amber is nothing more than fossilized tree sap that dates back about 40 million years. Although it comes from around the world, Baltic Amber is considered to be the crème de la crème.
Stunning Sterling Dragongly Brooch with Baltic Amber. Poland.
The more romantic version of where amber comes from is this…During the colder months and the water of the Baltic Sea reaches its highest point of density, amber floats up from the seabed and washed ashore. Although this is true, it is an extremely labor intensive way to get your hands on some amber. It is a lot of work for a small return.
(Excerpt from Ancient Carved Ambers in the J. Paul Getty Museum, Faya Causey) The richest deposits are on and around the Samland peninsula, a large, fan-shaped area that corresponds to the delta region of a river that once drained an ancient landmass that geologists call Fennoscandia. This ancient continent now lies beneath the Baltic Sea and the surrounding land. Although this area has the largest concentration of amber in the world, it is a secondary deposition. Amazingly, the fossil resin “was apparently eroded from marine sediments near sea level, carried ashore during storms, and subsequently carried by water and glaciers to secondary deposits across much of northern and eastern Europe” over a period of approximately twenty million years. In antiquity, most amber from the Baltic shore was harvested from shallow waters and beaches, where it had washed up (once again, millennia later), especially during autumn storms that agitated the seabeds. It was only in the early modern period that amber began to be mined. With the introduction of industrial techniques, huge amounts have been extracted since the nineteenth century. It is estimated that up to a million pounds of amber a year was dug from the blue earth layer of the Samland peninsula in the first decades of the twentieth century.
As years go by, the quantity of Baltic Amber shrinks. Gone are the days of large pieces of amber being used. Now it is more about design and the use of smaller pieces of amber set in sterling silver.