Amber is found in various parts of the world. The largest amber deposits are off the shores of the Baltic Sea and the North Sea. The great amber-producing country is the promontory of Sambia, now a part of Russia.
Pieces of amber torn from the sea-floor are cast up by the waves, and collected at ebb-tide. Sometimes the searchers wade into the sea, furnished with nets at the end of long poles, by means of which they drag in the sea-weed containing entangled masses of amber; or they dredge from boats in shallow water and rake up amber from between the boulders. Divers have been employed to collect amber from the deeper waters. Systematic dredging on a large scale was at one time carried on in the Curonian Lagoon by Messrs Stantien and Becker, the great amber merchants of Königsberg. At the present time extensive mining operations are conducted in quest of amber. The pit amber was formerly dug in open works, but is now also worked by underground galleries. The nodules from the blue earth have to be freed from matrix and divested of their opaque crust, which can be done in revolving barrels containing sand and water. The sea-worn amber has lost its crust, but has often acquired a dull rough surface by rolling in sand.
Rolled pieces of amber, usually small but occasionally of very large size, may be picked up on the east coast of England, having probably been washed up from deposits under the North Sea. Cromer is the best-known locality, but it occurs also on other parts of the Norfolk coast, as well as at Great Yarmouth, Southwold, Aldeburgh and Felixstowe in Suffolk, and as far south as Walton-on-the-Naze in Essex, whilst northwards it is not unknown in Yorkshire. On the other side of the North Sea, amber is found at various localities on the coast of the Netherlands and Denmark. On the shores of the Baltic it occurs not only on the German and Polish coast but in the south of Sweden, in Bornholm and other islands, and in southern Finland. Amber has indeed a very wide distribution, extending over a large part of northern Europe and occurring as far east as the Urals. Some of the amber districts of the Baltic and North Sea were known in prehistoric times, and led to early trade with the south of Europe through the Amber Road. Amber was carried to Olbia on the Black Sea, Massilia (today Marseille) on the Mediterranean, and Adria at the head of the Adriatic; and from these centers it was distributed over the Hellenic world.
The Baltic region includes localities in Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Frisian Islands, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. Other localities for Baltic amber include the Czech and Slovak Republics, Switzerland, France, United Kingdom. Amber also comes from many parts of Asia (what is called Chinese amber is a pale color to a red and heavily crazed).
The Baltic Sea region has been the original source for amber since Prehistoric times. Although it is not known exactly when Baltic amber was first used, it can be linked to the Stone Age populations. Amber of Baltic origin was found in Egyptian tombs that date back to 3200 B.C., establishing the archeological barter and trade routes. Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia have some 100 Neolithic burial sites in which amber is included. European sea trade was dominated by the Vikings from 800-1000 A.D., with the "gold from the north", and Scandinavia continues to be a major exporter of amber today.
Amber is found primarily along the west coast of Jutland, from the southern border with Germany to the tip of Skagen. In 1940 a large number of amber beads, dating from 2500-2200 B.C., were discovered in Jutland. They are currently on display at the Skive Museum. The region, including the west coast of Denmark and adjacent Germany, is the originating area for the Bronze Age amber trade route to the Mediterranean. Amber was more plentiful in this region in the past than at present. It has been estimated that about 80% of the amber sold by Denmark today, is imported into the country from Poland, the CIS and Germany.
The southwest tip, as well as several islands in the Baltic, host amber. It is collected off the beaches, especially after storms.
German Amber is especially famous for skilled lapidaries, with the most famous gem industry area, Idar Oberstein. Amber is found along the northern portion of Germany, from both the coastline with the Baltic and inland along the Elbe river. Germany also imports amber from the CIS.
Along the northwest side of the Bay of Danzig or Gdansk Bay, Baltic amber is frequently found in the layer in which it formed. Amber deposits were somewhat depleted by the end of World War II, though it can still be found all along the Baltic coastline and somewhat inland, as well as along the border with Germany, from the sea to the Oder River.
A small outlier of Russia, an area called Samland, in the Kaliningrad Oblast, continues to be one of the largest concentrations of amber in the Baltic area. Kaliningrad is home to Yantary, an amber museum, and is believed to supply over two-thirds of the world's amber and 99% of the Baltic amber in recent times. It is not only rich in quantity, but also in the variety of types found.
Bordered by the productive Kaliningrad area, the amber rich, blue earth layer extends into Lithuania. This country has one of the larger amber museums in the world. A product in demand from the some Lithuanian amber was amber varnish, which was used on ship decks and fine violins.
Another Baltic state rich in amber is also the site of the School of Applied Arts (Liepaja). This is one of the few schools in the world that specializes in artistic amber processing.
Rumanite, brownish-yellow and contains considerable sulfur. A variety of "black amber" is actually deep red, blue, or brown when held to a light source. There is no truly black amber. The so-called "black amber" is usually jet, a variety of lignite coal.
Along the coast of Kent, Essex and Suffolk, the southern North Sea, small amounts of amber can be found. English amber is usually golden or cloudy yellow, with its source not exactly known. Amber artifacts found in prehistoric graves in England are not necessarily from the English amber sites.
Another country with B marked the beginning of the early Stone Age or Neolithic Era (first half of fifth millennium to the middle of the second millennium BC). In Estonia, pottery skills arrived around the beginning of the fourth millennium, 2500 BC, and the pots were decorated with dimples and indentations. This distinctive pattern was assigned to the "comb-pottery culture," a group of people who also carved amber figures for ornamentation and burial inclusion for the "next life". The extent of comb-pottery settlements stretched from northern Finland to eastern Prussia and Baltic amber was traded among these populations. The comb-pottery culture is considered to be the direct ancestors of the later Baltic Finns, or the Estonians, Finns, and Lavonians. The Iron Age began some 2,000 years ago in Estonia, with iron smelting; amber was one of the trading commodities at this time with peoples of the Roman Empire. The importance of Baltic amber to these people in the south is underscored by a Roman historian, who ..."mentioned that in Rome, one would pay 'more than for a living man' for even the smallest amber object".
Dark amber could be found in Kansas in the lignite beds along the Smoky Hill River, Ellsworth County, but the beds are no longer accessible because of the Kannapolis Reservoir. Less than 50 pounds were found before the area was flooded. This amber was discovered by George Jelinek and is referred to as jelinite... more
This amber is classified as retinite, because it contains no succinic acid; it is primarily of Tertiary (Oligocene) age. When exposed to UV light, all Dominican amber exhibits fluorescence in blue or green shades. The Dominican Republic is the most plentiful source of amber outside of the Baltic area.
Burmite, has been used by Chinese craftsmen as early as the Han dynasty (206 B.C. to 220 A.D.) and rarely reaches any market outside of China. Burmite contains 2% succinic acid, less than Baltic amber, but still considered a succinite.
Amber from Lebanon is Lower Cretaceous in age or about 130 million years ago. This amber oozed from a Kauri Pine forest and contains some of the oldest embalmed insects known, as well as fossil plants, animals, and feathers. Also, Lebanese amber was traded by Phoenicians some 5,000 years ago.
Simetite, yellow, red, blue, or green varieties with less succinic acid than Baltic amber (Tertiary-Miocene/Oligocene age). The simetite resin source-tree is related to Burseraceae protium, an angiosperm, rather than a conifer. Most simetite is found in museum collections, jewelry with simetite is rare.
Amber is found in Chiapas and only recently publicized; classed as a retinite (from a leguminous tree).
Chemawinite or cedarite fossil resin has great scientific importance because of its well-preserved inclusions of insects, spiders, and mites. It also contains pollen grains, spores, and fragments of plants from the Upper Cretaceous period. The first deposits to be studied extensively were at Cedar Lake, Manitoba. It was suggested that these deposits were secondary, that is re-deposited from an unknown distant source. Amber is also found in the Foremost Formation (75 million years old) near Medicine Hat, Alberta. Grassy Lake, Alberta is another Canadian site which has yielded many fossil insects (Grimaldi, 1996, p. 25).
Amber found in coal beds is used for making lacquer and none is exported. The amber deposits are found in the Taneichi and Kunitan Formations (85 million years old) near Kuji and 120 million year old formations in Chõshi. Specimens may be viewed at the Kuji Amber Museum and the National Science Museum in Tokyo.
These deposits are older than copal resin, but younger than Baltic amber.
Ambrite, a transparent, yellow variety of true fossil resin. New Zealand also has Kauri copal, a natural resin resembling amber. Kauri copal radiates from the Kauri pine, Agathis australis, which live over 1000 years reaching heights of 120-160 feet (40-50 meters). Kauri copal has been found buried as deep as 300 feet (100 meters) and is extremely old. It does not contain succinic acid and does not polish well, though it can contain insect inclusions and resemble amber in color. The Kauri Museum located at Matakohe, Northland, New Zealand is an interesting site detailing the copal and copal producing tree.
Retinite found along the southeast and southwest parts of the country..