Pendants made from amber have been found that date back to 12,000 B.C.E. There have been quantities of amber found in the foundations of ancients buildings, leading to the speculation that it was placed there to ward off evil. Amber has been highly valued throughout history and was one of the first known commercial products. The demand was so great that a trading route called The Amber Road developed that brought amber from the Baltic Sea all the way to Italy. This trading route lead to the possession of amber in many areas of the ancient world. Amber artifacts have been found in areas of ancient Greece, Egypt and England.
When the resin seeped from ancient trees so many million years go, sometimes it would trap various objects within it. These items are called inclusions, and can be a variety of insects, leaves, twigs, and other organic matter. These inclusions can contain insect and plant species that are no longer found on earth, and they add to the value of the stones.
The beaches and seaweed beds of the Baltic Sea was the greatest source of amber in the ancient world, and was the starting point for the original Amber Road. The stone is also mined on land, and is the greatest source of amber being used today, mined in this manner it is encrusted with other minerals and rocks, while sea amber has been polished smooth by water. Sea Amber is of greater value than the version found on land.
Much of the amber found today still comes from the Baltic Sea region of Eastern Europe and Russia, with many of the richest deposits found in Poland and Lithuania. Other major deposits are also found in The Dominican Republic and many different areas of Asia. Small localized areas of amber deposits have been found in The United States, with the largest U.S deposits being found in Arkansas.
The ancients credited amber with many magical properties. It gave the wearer strength, helped ward off evil, aided in healing, and enhanced the power of magicians, among others. The beauty of the stone still has the power to attract the human eye, and amber jewelry remains very popular. A thing of beauty is a joy forever, said the poet. In its many colors and forms, amber was a thing of beauty for the ancients. It remains a thing of beauty for us.