May 03, 2019 2 min read
A gemstone full of natural beauty and warmth, amber is fossilized tree resin, millions of years old. Due to its warm and vibrant tones, the ancient Greek name for amber was “elektron”, meaning “beaming Sun”. An Athenian historian, Nicias (c. 470–413 BC), wrote “amber is a liquid produced by the rays of the sun; which is carried off by the tides of the Ocean, and thrown up upon the shores.”
A mythical origin of amber exists whereby the Baltic goddess of the sea, Jurate, fell in love with a mortal fisherman, Kastytis. The god Perkunas couldn’t bear the thought of a mortal touching the Queen and angrily threw down a bolt of lightning which shattered the queen’s amber palace, scattering millions of pieces into the sea, and drowning Kastytis. Ever since, fragments of amber have washed up on the shore and have earned the name “Jurate’s tears”.
The legends around the creation of amber are romantic and charming, but the science behind the gemstone is no less fascinating. More than 55 million years ago, conifer forests grew along the southern regions of present-day Scandinavia and nearby regions of what is now the Baltic Sea. As the climate became warmer and conifer trees began to exude resin, amber deposits were formed and were eventually washed into rivers and out to sea. Over millions of years, the pine resin has fossilised and achieved a stable state through oxidation.
While it can be found in other parts of the world, one of the largest deposits of this natural gemstone exists in the Baltic region. All Azendi amber comes from this Baltic region and we are proud to be able to say that all our amber is certified by the International Amber Association. This is a guarantee of the authenticity of the amber.
For thousands of years, amber was used as a method of payment between merchants and traders. Amber was so important as a precious commodity it found its way across continents, from the Baltic Sea, through the Roman Empire and to Africa. Large Baltic amber beads were even found on the breastplate of Tutankhamen. Trade routes from Northern Europe down to the Mediterranean were created through the trade of Baltic amber, and the powerful Hanseatic League (a confederation of merchants controlling the trade on many desirable goods throughout the late Middle Ages) built their success from the trade of amber.
The present day use of amber is almost exclusively jewellery. The magic of amber is that each piece is entirely unique – the gem displays natural inclusions and microscopic bubbles that shimmer with every movement. Each piece of amber is wholeheartedly individual and cannot be replicated, harbouring a unique story in the history of the stone itself.
Amber is available in a variety of shades; cognac, yellow, red, green, and those which are much rarer such as white, blue, and black. At Azendi, we use cognac amber (a warm orange), cherry amber (a deep, wine-hued colour), green, and yellow. We carefully combine these different colours of amber with sterling silver or gold vermeil settings to best bring out the rich tones of the amber gems.