A pair of amber earrings should be in every jewelry lover’s collection! Amber is one of those natural wonders that seems to fascinate everyone. It is beautiful – that’s a fact. It seems to glow from within and it has such a rich, warm feel to it that you almost feel like you could warm your hands just by holding it. You can’t beat it for wearing with all of your warm –colored winter wardrobe pieces, and maybe even some of your sunny weather wardrobe, too.
Check out these facts about amber earrings before you buy:
Amber is not really a “stone”, because it is made of fossilized tree resin, not a mineral mined from the earth. Over time, the tree resin becomes trapped in dirt and debris and then gets covered with more dirt and debris, and finally, pressure and heat eventually turn the resin into a fossil.
The fascinating thing about amber that draws most people to it is that the process of oozing down the side of a tree and becoming covered in debris causes small inclusions to become trapped in the resin before it hardens. These inclusions can be anything, leaves, plants, even insects. The more perfect and whole the inclusion, the more value the amber has.
Amber has a range of colors, from dark golden brown to light yellow, to almost clear. It is also very soft, with a hardness of only 2.5 to 3 on the Mohs scale of hardness. Amber earrings should have no problem in that respect since earrings are unlikely to take a hard hit or be scratched. Storing amber earrings with care would be advisable, however. When not being worn, they should be kept in a separate soft bag so other jewelry cannot scratch them while they are being stored.
Reconstituted amber is what is used in much of the amber jewelry sold today. Natural amber is ground and then mixed with resins that form a hard material that is formed into cabochons and cut into faceted beads, etc. This material should be sold under the name “simulated” or “imitation” amber. A good way to tell if it is simulated is to look at the inclusions – if they are perfect, (complete insects with no legs or wings missing, or perfect leaves) it may very well be “ambroid”, or reconstituted amber that has had the inclusions added to it.
Baltic amber earrings are made from amber collected in the Baltic Sea area. Natural Baltic amber has only been mechanically cut, with no other treatments. Modified Baltic amber has been heated or pressure treated, reconstructed Baltic amber is the result of pressing amber pieces together under heat and high pressure to create larger pieces, and bonded Baltic amber is two or more pieces of the above types of amber that have been bonded together with a bonding agent. Ask your jeweler what kind of amber you are buying before you pay for very expensive gold amber earrings. Natural amber will cost the most, obviously.
Most gold or silver amber earrings sold today will be one of the modified types of amber, and will cost you from $15 and up for silver, and $50 and up for yellow or white gold earrings. Shop for amber earrings that will go with your wardrobe and other jewelry pieces, like your amethyst rings and your rose gold wedding bands so you will get the most bang for your buck.
Always stick with a reputable retailer when you shop for amber earrings. There are many good reconstituted or modified amber jewelry pieces on the market that are very affordable, but if you are in the market for natural amber earrings, be prepared to pay hundreds of dollars for them, and then be prepared to be blown away by their awesome beauty every time you put them on!
Although there are wide variations in styles and amber settings, be they set in gold, silver or even strung together with thin strips of leather, in general amber tends to be used in heavier setting styles. Amber necklaces often utilize large (and abundant quantities) of beads to make one piece, and rings and broaches tend to be larger than other gemstone compositions.
This is partly due to the fact that most amber contains a fossil; be it the skeletal remains of a prehistoric creature, a flower petal s or a leafy fern impression. These “amber gemstone” and their imprisoned fossils are therefore not cut in accord with the size a jeweler may desire for a setting but according to the size of the fossilized remains inside each piece. This often results in a somewhat chunky amber earring setting, or a thick necklace, or a more robust amber ring setting.
Also, another consideration is the geographical region where amber has been found – Northern/Eastern Europe and the Dominican Republic. Taking into account that traditional amber jewelry designs, in both Eastern Europe and Dominica, began as strands and strands of polished beads for necklaces and large amber stud earrings, it is not surprising that these heavier settings have become the most common styles seen around the world.
Although now there are numerous designers who make delicate compositions for drop earrings and tiny amber stud earrings in more subtle broaches and necklaces, the classic elegance of the heavy settings remains a standby.
Here are a few tips to incorporate amber jewelry that will tastefully accent your wardrobe.
- Remember that the amber itself will be the focal point of your look. Don’t overdo it with high collared, long-sleeved blouses or dresses with floral prints or patterned fabrics or heavy suit textures. When choosing to wear amber, keep your blouse, skirt, suit or dress patterns simple, preferable plain and of one color.
- Since amber reflects light and is filled with texture, the best fabrics will be lightweight silk, natural cotton, linen, and fluid crepe. If selecting multiple strands of amber beads for a necklace composition consider an open décolletage, a strappy summer dress or a strapless evening gown.
- Select only ONE piece of jewelry. Either choose a large amber stud earring or a dangling set of amber earrings as the focal point or choose an oversized broach or a multi-strand amber necklace, but not all three. If you choose a necklace, then pair it with a tiny stud earring and not a chunky or dangling earring. If you choose a prominent set of amber earrings, then forego the necklace.
- If you have pierced ears and normally wear earrings every day, and like me feel naked without earrings, then an alternative to a necklace would be a large bracelet or a set of bracelets.
- You may wear a large amber broach on a winter coat, and still, have another piece of amber jewelry such as a necklace or silver amber earrings that remain once you have removed your coat.
- Should settings be in silver or gold? That depends. For a warmer feeling choose gold amber earrings and for a cool look select the silver ones. Just try to keep gold with gold and silver with silver. Green and blue amber lend themselves well to silver settings, it brings out the coolness, whereas yellow or honey-colored amber blends are better with gold accents.
Remember, as with all jewels, amber jewelry is meant to accentuate what you wear and not overpower it. The main tips for accenting your wardrobe with amber jewelry are:
- Select one piece of jewelry for one outfit. Keep it simple and elegant.
- Opt for plain raw silk, natural cotton, linen, or fluid crepe fabrics.
Here are some additional tips on what other jewelry to pair with amber:
- Delicate Silver Amber Earrings – match with a simple silver choker and no other gems (no necklace).
- Heavy Gold Amber Earrings – pair with a set of thin bangles or one matching bracelet (no necklace).
- Large Amber Stud Earrings – combine with nothing more than your smile (a bangle if you like).
- Green Amber Earrings – try to keep your look cool – silk dress in blue, turquoise or soft jade tones.
- Large Amber Rings – if you have expressive hands that gesture, let your rings do the talking.
Polish Amber Earrings From The Baltic
If you are in the US or in Europe, the best websites and jewelry shops for honey yellow and auburn colored amber will be Polish. There are hundreds of small artisans and jewelers who make a living crafting beautiful polish amber earrings, necklaces, bracelets and pendants and shipping them around the world.
Where To Shop Online
There are also larger shops like Amazon.com who have a large selection of beautiful Baltic amber earrings, pendants and other pieces that are very affordable and uniquely crafted into designs that are modern and elegant. The best part is that prices start at around $20 for stud earrings and only the most elaborate multi-stone creations go up to $100 or more. All their pieces are certified Polish amber jewelry crafted from stones found in the Baltic region.
Amber Jewelry Styles
Traditionally, polish amber earrings and necklaces were crafted from beads, and these styles still exist today, but there are also many creations like gorgeous chandelier designs, drop earrings and even the popular Celtic and filigree designs that incorporate knots and intricate lacey sculpted motifs with chunks of amber at the center.
Celtic Jewelry With Amber
Although chunky and large Baltic amber earrings are the best-known styles, the newest designs are often smaller, highly polished stones that resemble jade or even garnets and peridots, since their color variations can range from light green-yellow to deep reddish-brown. The polished stones set in hand sculpted earrings and other creations including rings and pendants, often resemble antique or art deco jewelry designs that are very popular with the return to retro styles. With Celtic emblems and motifs and colored stones, the old-world antique feel is easy to achieve. The best part about it is that even very ornate creations are often well within even the most limited jewelry budgets. For example, some three-piece sets that include a pendant necklace and delicate chandelier or drop earrings may retail for under $100.
Green Polish Amber Earrings and Jewelry
Green polish amber earrings are the most affordable of all. Why? Because they are lesser quality amber stones that have been treated to be richer green in tone. Nevertheless, they are one of the most beautiful choices if you need something genuine that’s really affordable.
Handmade Baltic Amber Earrings
For a wide variety of styles and colors in unusual silver settings that are handmade, Baltic amber earrings are the best choice. Try shopping with small online merchants who earn their living by crafting and retailing unusual Baltic amber jewelry and not only save money but have original pieces that will be unique to you. Try also places like My Amber Jewelry, Amber Workshop, and Amber Paradise and start enjoying Polish amber jewelry creations that come straight from the Baltic Sea.
Buying Amber – Shopping for the Best Amber Earrings and Jewelry
If you are in love with Breakfast at Tiffany’s and the idea that service and ambiance add something to your jewelry purchase you will have no trouble buying amber around the world in the many small or large shops from Cracow to Paris or from island dealers in the Dominican Republic.
The problem with shops is that they carry a selection of amber earrings and rings that will easily appeal to a broad spectrum of tastes and therefore is often more generic in nature. If you want amber jewelry that is unique, one of a kind, not only due to the quality of the amber used but also the way the pieces are set, then I suggest Amazon.com. Many such amber artisans are now online and ship their creations internationally, so you have a much wider choice than just what is available in a shop or amber market in one location.
Here is a list of some artists to help you find the most unique and personal pieces:
- For colorful and dramatic handcrafted designer amber jewelry try Amazon. They have a large selection of very fine silver amber earrings, gold amber earrings, amber pendants, and green amber jewelry. They have mixed other stones with amber in some of their settings such as one exquisite pair of sterling silver amber earrings made from Baltic amber and black onyx for $245.
- R L Amber Jewelry from Russia has some heavy, antique styles – amber pendants, amber earrings and large amber bracelets in sterling silver settings under $200. Since 1994 they have collected amber jewelry from Kiev, Moscow, and St. Petersburg and brought them to exclusive clients in the United States. They work with seasoned amber collectors as well as beginners offering a connection between the buyer and the artists. Custom order is welcome.
- Andzias Amber Jewelry (Located at 1808 North Main Avenue Scranton, PA 18508. Tel- 570-346-4568) is a certified member of the International Amber Association in Poland. They offer a broad range of Baltic amber, especially sterling silver amber earrings. They have traditionally handcrafted amber bead necklaces, amber bead bracelets as well as more contemporary designs by local artists. They also have some very delicate amber stud and drop earrings like their Classic Amber Rose. Each rose for each earring is handmade and therefore varies slightly, but they are all in honey tones, made from Baltic Sea Amber in Poland.
- For original and remarkable amber designs visit Gregory Pyra, a magnificent amber jewelry artist who has exhibited many of his amber rings and pendants as museum pieces in Malbork Castle Museum and the Amber Museum in Gdansk Poland. He has also been commissioned to craft exclusive pieces for members of Sweden’s royal family. This is amber art jewelry not just amber earrings, pins or rings for a party. This is jewelry that distinguishes you from your excellent taste should you be able to purchase a piece or two.
- Tel-Aviv designer Leetal Kalma has the most exotic, modern, tribal, classic, wild, modern, antique, eccentric fantastic pieces of green amber earrings, amber rings, silver amber earrings and amber jewelry in general. Silver, gold and every kind of precious stone are used to build masterpieces that often have stunning amber additions. It’s worth taking a look at these unusual creations.
These are but a few of the artists, artisans and amber dealers who you can choose from.
Gift Ideas – Selecting the Best Amber Earrings and Jewelry
Choosing Amber Jewelry
I met my husband’s mother for the first time (a few months after our wedding in Hong Kong) in her home an hour outside of Paris. She could not speak English or Spanish, being Polish, and I could not speak Polish, being Spanish, and so we communicated in French and sign language. After dinner, we retired to the living room where she presented me with the first of many gifts that required no language – some exquisite pieces of Baltic amber. This initial set of lemon yellow amber earrings, an amber choker, and matching bracelet would begin my collection of amber, something I had previously known little about.
Later, I received many silver amber earrings, amber rings and some amazing designer bracelets in thick sterling silver and amber settings. I also had the opportunity to go to the Baltic Sea, with its endless seaside beaches of pure white sand, and see for myself where Baltic amber comes from.
Over the past 2 years, for birthdays, anniversaries and special events and reunions, my mother-in-law added to my collection with numerous presents – each more unique than the last. I began to investigate how amber was formed and what gave it such a wide variety of colors and hues, and how I could care for my amber and how I too could share these amber gemstones with others. (Some of these topics are presented in other posts)
While I was later in Warsaw at my husband’s family home, I came upon boxes of amber beads and large pieces of both yellow-orange formations as well as some of the rare blue amber and a few bits of green amber. I began making jewelry to give as presents and found it a very rewarding experience because I had fun making it and selecting the amber and invariably the people who received the presents were enchanted.
Giving earrings or rings or general amber jewelry as a gift is quite different than giving a diamond or ruby or amethyst for example because of the uniqueness of each piece of amber – each containing a tiny bit of prehistoric fossil makes for a talking piece.
So how do I select the right piece of amber jewelry as a gift?
I offer a few suggestions:
- Know the preferred color scheme of who you plan to give it to. This is especially true for giving amber because of the varied colors it comes in.
- Know if the amber earrings you have selected are for pierced ears and if the person receiving the present has pierced ears. Unlike other earrings, amber earring styles are often made with clips, in part because of the weight of the amber itself and also because many antique pieces are traditionally made using screws or clips and not posts.
- Select the most luminous, translucent pieces you can afford. The best amber is totally transparent.
- Select gold amber earrings if you know the rest of the jewelry your friend uses is gold or vice versa if it is silver. That is one big mistake is jewelry giving in general. Most women have a dominant metal they like more than another. Very seldom do silver ladies wear gold.
- When we give gifts, it is human nature to select an item we most would like for ourselves. But, for a change, think about the receiver and forget about your own personal taste. Ask yourself, does my friend usually wear delicate drop earrings or diamond studs or does she wear heavy, chunky, exotic, even tribal looking, jewelry? Does she wear mostly warm tones and natural fibers or blues, greens, teal or turquoise? All women have a dominant tone they prefer even if they have a little of both warm and cool in their closet. To find out, don’t ask her! Just think back to the last 5 times you’ve been together and what she’s worn and chances are you’ll know immediately if you should select some green/ blue amber jewelry or stick with the honey-orange tones.
Amber Earrings – The Phenomenon Behind What You Are About to Buy
Before you invest in a pair of amber earrings or other tempting pieces of amber jewelry, take a moment to read about what a phenomenon they really are:
The Origins of Amber – and the Difference between Resin and Sap
Amber, although often thought to be precious “amber gemstones”, is not of the same nature as say rubies, sapphires or diamonds. Long before becoming an amber ring or a pair of silver amber earrings, it was fossilized resin from trees (don´t confuse this with sap which is like plant blood whereas resin is an essence within plant cells).
What makes amber perhaps more unique than gemstones is that while the prehistoric resin was yet fresh –viscous like honey – little insects, spiders, frogs, and crustaceans, not to forget hairs, feathers, wood, leaves and flowers, all got stuck in the goo. When these drops of gunk were yet undeveloped chunks, after just a little initial heat and pressure, what they became were Copal, not true amber.
Copal becomes amber only after certain chemicals have evaporated, and that takes a very, very long time. And when I say a LONG TIME I’m not joking. Some pieces date back 345 million years; although the amber that contains insects appears to have formed ONLY about 146 million years ago and the pieces with beautiful bacteria and amoebae are still babies at 100 million years of age!
Here is a little trivia about the word “amber” and heat. Since amber is relatively soft and can burn, in German it is Berstein which means to burn stone and in Dutch barnsteen with the same meaning.
The Color of Amber Earrings – and What is the Best
Most people think of shades of Auburn, golden- yellow, ginger- orange, or perhaps even russet or brown tones when they think of amber. Although these may be the most common colors available in amber jewelry shops that carry what is known as “amber gemstones”, in fact, amber can be almost white, light yellow, cherry red, green (please read about that in another article) or even blue, which is coveted and rare. I have seen some blue amber that is navy and other pieces that are violet or deep purple.
The best amber, no matter it’s color, is transparent and does not contain bubbles.
Amber Jewelry – Handle with Care
It’s natural to handle precious gems and jewels with care, even if they are diamonds and can’t be scratched no matter what you do. But handling amber is totally different. Amber should be touched as little as possible because the more it’s handled the darker it becomes. Yes, amber changes color permanently if exposed to the air, or touched by the skin, mostly your hands because of the natural oils we all have.
If you want to keep your amber earrings in your jewelry box that is okay. But I recommend the following extra precautions if you want to keep the transparency and original color of your amber gemstones.
- When not being worn, wrap your amber pieces in cloth and then in cellophane or plastic wrap.
- Grasp amber earrings and bracelets by the silver or gold settings to avoid touching the amber.
- Don’t wear your amber jewelry day and night even if it’s a pair of amber stud earrings you can sleep in.
- Don’t shower, swim do exercise or cook while wearing your amber rings or earrings.
- Don’t leave amber in the sun because heat and light change its color.
- Don’t let the amber get too warm or too cold.
- Don’t allow cologne, perfume, hairspray, or body lotions to come in contact with amber.
- Wipe amber with a soft cloth after wearing and before storing.
- Wash when necessary with mild soap/room temperature water and dry with a clean cloth.
- Polish from time to time to bring out the shine some recommend using oil but I don’t.
Remember: exposure to oxygen, temperature changes and the natural oils on your skin will dramatically change the color and transparency of any (high or low quality) amber.