Eighty percent of the world's supply of amber is Baltic amber. This genuine Baltic amber is far superior in terms of quality and prestige to amber coming from any other source, mainly south Asia or the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean; and even more so when compared to the softer and more opaque copal from Colombia or New Zealand.

Modern amber imitations, such as glass, hardened celluloid, polyesters, phenyl resins or plastic might superficially resemble amber, even amber from the Baltic, but they're not the real thing, which was created over fifty million years ago in an area of ancient flooded forest which is now the south eastern shore of the Baltic Sea. They don't capture and reflect the sunlight like Baltic amber does, and any amber jewellery given as a present, unless it originates from the Baltic, doesn't in any sense convey the same message of love, hope, remembrance, friendship or desire that an authenticated Baltic amber necklace, brooch or ring will do. Fifty million years in the making, cut and polished by the highest quality craftsmen in the region, and mounted with hallmarked Sterling silver – how could you say it any better?

So, how do you know if your recently-purchased amber is genuine or not? It can be quite difficult and expensive; professionals and artisans can use their decades of knowledge and experience, comparing the material's characteristic features such as grain, hardness and opacity. Another method is to heat the gemstone and see if it gives off the distinctive aroma of amber. Caustic solvent tests are also used to determine if the object dissolves as true Baltic amber should; and you could also drop it into brine – artificial compounds and resins usually sink in a saturated salt solution. Beware though: this method cannot be guaranteed to be a reliable indicator; many modern imitations behave just like real amber in many environments.

That amber bead necklace, purchased from a reliable supplier might not just be a piece of ornamental jewellery though; it could also be a teething necklace given to a toddler – apparently Baltic amber is a perfect consistency for such a purpose...naturally you will need to be certain of its provenance though: and amber isn't only used to make jewellery or small trinkets, or even quite substantial functional or decorative pieces for that matter; it also has some more unusual uses.

Practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine frequently recommend putting the powder left over after working the amber into food as a good tonic for raising the spirits and strengthening the heart and lungs. Due to its ability to generate static electricity by rubbing it against certain materials and surfaces, amber was used to remove lint from clothing and furniture, and some families still use this traditional method today.

Given the opportunity, wouldn't you like to own a piece of jewellery or a small work of art made from this wonderful and unique gemstone? Baltic amber, you'll be using it as nature and history always intended.