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Discovering Green Amber

Updated: Jan 27, 2023

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 very large lot of mossy green amber set in artisan crafted sterling silver. Some of the cabochons were as big as a robin's egg. I asked the seller if these amber gems could possibly be a real color. "Absolutely! The finest AND the rarest of all' she claimed.

Eyes wide open, I opted to purchase the entire lot on the spot. Just a few short months later, at malls and then flea markets across America, I began to see this same fine rare green amber in ever increasing quantities and at a reasonable price. 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---heart stopping, even. Most of all, the eye pleasing color made one want to reach out and touch it-lush-unbelievably green, green, green. This amber, as I was to discover a little further down the Amber Road, is treated with a dark jeweler's paste on the reverse of the stone and then heated or the amber is simply heated to a well-guarded secret temperature then set into a silver frame.

Of course, the real methods are kept secret as are many practices of the gem industry. Today green amber is accepted by the International Amber Association as merely a variation of amber color 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 clearish amber and a pale greenish yellow tone. Generally, natural green amber contains many, many inclusions of plant and earth hubris. These inclusions tend to be large, and the amber is both 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, should you ever have the opportunity to see it, by its distinct characteristics of dark inclusions and yellow-green color. It does NOT look like anything on the market today. Was I angry at the dealer who sold me my first lot of "real green" amber? No. As it turned out, she was rather 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 was flagging. It is my humble opinion that green amber was created as a new variation to create interest and excitement in the amber market. Under communism, the amber industry was not a source of joy for the Poles, but rather a job that saw the fruits of their (uninspired) labor leave the country labeled "Made in the USSR."

At present Baltic amber comes from Kaliningrad, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Ukraine and Germany. When Poland broke away from the Soviet system, many small amber firms were founded, and the art of amber began to flourish once more.

Green amber excited the marketplace and placed amber once again as a fashion forward gemstone. Not only that, but it also allowed the entire amber industry to focus on all the color 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.

Original article fist published online

March 2004

Updated January 15 2023

Andzia Chmil Stout

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