The Amber Trail

Appears in
Amber & Rye: A Baltic food journey

By Zuza Zak

Published 2021

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Throughout history, the ‘gold of the north’ has been treasured as a sacred amulet or noble ornament, a medicine and a source of economic power. Created some 40-60 million years ago from the sap of prehistoric conifer trees, this captivating resin is found in abundance in the Baltic Sea.
When we describe something as ‘amber’, we are usually thinking of a translucent orange colour, but amber comes in a range of hues from a pale lemon-sherbet yellow to a dark chocolate brown. Walking along a Baltic beach after a storm might reveal tiny little pebbles of amber in the sand, light as plastic and rather cloudy. Only when polished does the resin take on the radiant, nitid appearance it is famed for. Yet, polished or not, there’s a warmth to amber — it is pleasant to the touch, and a nugget of amber seems to respond to human skin, growing warm when held in the palm of the hand.