Despite amber being found mainly along the Baltic Sea shore, the origin of the word is 'anbar', an Arabic term brought to Europe by the Crusaders in the Middle Ages. There isn't any naturally occurring amber in the Eastern Mediterranean, yet jewellery made from the translucent gemstone was very popular with wealthy Arabs at the time; the amber having been brought to the region by trading caravans travelling along the long and difficult route from Eastern Europe.

 

There were three main branches of the 'Amber Route', one going via the Adriatic coast, Venice, Hungary, Moravia and Poland, another taking the maritime route westwards across the Mediterranean, past Gibraltar, the English Channel and eventually to Germany; the final route went through Constantinople, the Black Sea and the long, wide navigable rivers of Russia and the Ukraine – a route first used by the Romans.

 

Although popularised by Knights returning from their battles with the Saracens, amber has been used in Britain for thousands of years, as attested by the recent discovery of an amber necklace which was found buried with the skeleton of a boy who lived during the Bronze Age near to Stonehenge.

 

Due to its rarity, uniqueness and beauty, amber is used in jewellery wherever it is found, and further afield, beyond the Amber Route, in parts of China and India a similar pattern of trade developed, transporting the raw material to skilled craftsmen and then sold on by merchants. This amber, produced from local sources in Asia is acknowledged to be inferior to the genuine Baltic Amber used in our jewellery.