Lithuanian legend tells of the sea goddess Jurate, who lived in an amber castle underwater. When the thunder god Perkunas learned of Jurate’s forbidden love for a mortal fisherman, he conjured a terrible storm that destroyed her amber palace. They say that pieces of it still wash up on Baltic shores today. We like to imagine that these romantic, ornately framed accents were once part of that legendary palace.
Legends about the glow of amber span all cultures and eras. The ancient Greeks thought of amber as sunshine made solid, one of the many gifts that Penelope’s suitors tried to woo her with in Homer’s Odyssey. The Greek word for amber is elektron, from which we get the English electricity, because amber can hold a static charge. In early Chinese cultures, amber was what became of a tiger’s soul after death. Vikings believed that amber carved in the shape of an animal contained that animal’s strength. The fact that natural amber often has small leaves, insects, and other inclusions trapped within it certainly must have supported these beliefs. Romantic myths and legends aside, the truth is that amber is the fossilized resin of trees that existed millions of years ago. People are often surprised at how lightweight and warm to the touch amber is, believing it to be a gemstone. But like pearl and jet, amber is actually one of a few “stones” that are actually organic. Available in shades from honey to straw to cherry to mahogany, with bubbles and inclusions or without, as natural chips or perfectly polished shapes, amber adds a touch of warmth and a natural glow to any outfit.