Because amber floats in turbulent or agitated water, as soon as a storm has passed over the area local people flock to the beaches near to the Polish city of Gdansk, to gather Baltic amber. Some pickers are seasoned professionals, dressed in waterproof oilskins and equipped with nets for scooping amber straight out of the sea, whilst others are casual visitors just happy to pick up a small piece of amber from the beach.

 

Thought by the ancient Greeks to be the tears of a type of bird from India which wept for the death of one of the Argonauts killed by his own mother, or the dried up urine of lynxes, Baltic amber is actually the fossilised resin of trees that were alive over fifty million years ago, each piece of amber being unique – its colour and opacity, its striations and how it reflects the light...and even the possibility of an inclusion; hence, the continuing popularity of amber jewellery, either intricately worked pieces, often mounted in Sterling silver, or simpler amber bracelets utilising small amber gemstones.

 

Even in ancient times some people correctly surmised that amber was some form of fossilised tree sap, yet others still asserted incorrectly for many generations that Baltic amber was somehow solidified oil or petroleum. The many inclusions of insects and plant material made it difficult to attribute its origins to any other source than a pine forest, and by the middle of the eighteenth century the great Russian scientist, Mikhail Lomonosov had settled the argument by declaring that amber could be nothing else but the fossilised resin of ancient pine trees.

 

Larger pieces of amber are more valuable than an equal weight made up of several smaller pieces, and these smaller pieces cannot simply be melted together, because amber doesn't melt; it merely softens and then becomes malleable – properties understood by the many traditional craftsmen who have produced Baltic amber jewellery over the generations.

 

In the past amber used to be trawled from the seabed with the use of special nets dragged behind boats – a profitable sideline for the owners of boats employed to dredge the main shipping channels, and another way of locating and recovering Baltic amber was to probe the seabed with long poles, forcing the amber to float to the surface of the easily disturbed shallow water. However, in modern times amber is harvested on an industrial scale from nearby land deposits, using motorised equipment; yet this process is somewhat anonymous and impersonal: so, what better must-have souvenir from your visit to this part of Poland could you take home with you than a hand-crafted piece of speciality Baltic amber jewellery, made from a piece of amber you actually found yourself; an organic treasure formed when the amber pine grew in what is now northeastern Europe at a time when semi-tropical conditions prevailed?

 

Baltic amber, a gift or souvenir to warm your heart and raise your spirits; from the clean, refreshing, invigorating waters of the Baltic Sea.