Discovering Green Amber Jewelry
In the early nineties, when I first fell madly in love with Baltic amber--for its beauty, folklore, history and intrinsic ties to my ancestral homeland, I was offered a large lot of beautiful mossy green amber set in handworked sterling silver. I asked the seller if it could possibly be a real colour. "Absolutely, the finest and--the rarest amber of all," he claimed.
Eyes wide open, I opted to purchase the entire lot on the spot. A few months later, at malls and flea markets across America I began to see this same fine, --rare-- amber in ever increasing quantities and at reasonable prices. How rare was green amber, I puzzled, if suddenly it was everywhere?
My green amber collection was indeed, quite unusual. The Polish silverwork and original designs were beautiful, heartstopping, even.
Most of all, the eye-pleasing color made one want to reach out and touch it- soft, lush- unbelievably green, green, green. This amber, as I was to discover a little farther down the road, is treated either with a jeweler's paste on the back and then heated, or the amber stone is simply heated, then set into a frame with a silver backing.
Of course, the real methods are guarded, as are many secrets of the gem industry. Today green amber is accepted by the Amber Association in Poland simply as a variation of amber colour enhancement. Just as peridot, citrine, turquoise and most all gems are treated and stabilized to bring out luster and shine, similar treatments are used to enhance green amber.
Natural green amber is a mix of clear amber and a pale greenish-yellow tone. Generally it contains many, many inclusions of plant and earth hubris. These inclusions are large and the amber is beautiful and unusual. This type of amber is sometimes referred to as earth amber. It contains sediments and veritable gardens of organic materials. You'll know this amber, if you ever have an opportunity to see it, by its distinct characteristics of dark inclusions and yellow-green colour. It does NOT look anything like green amber on the market today-that is the real green amber. Was I angry with the dealer who sold me the real green amber? No. As it turns out, he was later happy to explain the process. But I learned a valuable lesson:
Always purchase your amber from a source you can trust and don't be afraid to ask questions. A reliable dealer will tell you the truth.
Green amber also came to the forefront in the mid-nineties at a time when the amber industry in Poland was flagging. It is my opinion that green amber was created as a new variation to create interest. The amber industry, under communism, was not a source of joy for the Poles, but rather a job that saw their fruits of labor (uninspired) leave the country labeled "Made in the USSR".
At present, the majority of amber comes from Kaliningrad (Koningsberg) currently an enclave of the Russian Federation, and lesser amounts from Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Germany. When Poland broke away from the Soviet system, many little private amber firms were founded, and the art of amber gradually began to return.
Green amber excited the marketplace and placed amber once again as a fashion-forward gemstone. Not only that, but it also allowed us the entire amber industry to focus on all the colour variations in amber, both enhanced and natural. Which is precisely why we are so fortunate today to be experiencing a Renaissance in the art of amber.