Amber Jewelry’s Time to Shine

Great jewelry material doesn’t grow on trees. Or does it? Amber, the resin of prehistoric pine trees, has been prized, traded, and crafted into jewelry and works of art in the Baltic region since antiquity.

Today, amber jewelry is big business in the Baltic region, particularly in northern Poland where amber is celebrated each year at the Amberif International Fair of Amber, Jewellery and Gemstones in Gdansk. The 16th installment of the trade fair was held March 11–14, and more than 6,000 people from 40 countries came to see the latest creations by companies and individuals from 12 countries, primarily from the region.

It’s a good time for amber. It offers cost-conscience shoppers fashion-forward and design-oriented jewelry, and its organic nature should appeal to the green minded.

Videos of product demonstrations are available on the “JCK Voices” blog at JCKonline.com.

Westwood Hearts Amber

U.S. jewelry designer BARBARA WESTWOOD was a special guest at Amberif 2009. She and her husband and business partner, SKY HALL, spent three weeks in Poland traveling between Gdansk, the center of the Baltic amber industry and home of Amberif, and Krakow, the cultural center of Poland.

Prior to her trip, Westwood created a line of amber jewelry, much of it focused on variations of the heart. She calls amber an excellent color for fashion. “It’s warm and not very shiny,” she notes, adding that it goes well with other gemstones and precious metals.

She prefers using amber in classic mountings. In her first collection, she highlighted amber with diamonds, 18k gold, quartz, citrine, and mother-of-pearl. She used the accents sparingly, keeping the focus on the amber. “You know, the amber doesn’t need much,” she says. “I do love to add the diamonds. One thing I really like about it is that it’s lightweight, so I can make a big bold dramatic piece and it hardly weighs a thing.”