Lithuania

Amber!

09 Feb 2017

According to local legend, amber (gintaras) originates from the tears of the sea goddess Jūratė and the stones from her castle, which was destroyed by Perkūnas, the pagan god of thunder, when he discovered her passionate love affair with the mortal fisherman Kastytis.

Scientists, not generally being of the pagan faith, think different.

Some 40 million years ago or thereabouts the earth got warmer, causing an increase in the secretion of resin in the pine forests in the region. The streams of resin swept down rivers and into the Baltic Sea, sometimes sweeping up a stray bug along the way. It's this fossilised resin that now sits in deltaic deposits off the coasts of Kaliningrad, Lithuania, Poland and Sweden.

Ask most people and they’ll tell you amber is a dark honey colour. However, visit anywhere selling the stuff and you’ll soon see it comes in such diverse colours as blue, black, white and yellow. White amber is called royal amber and is widely available in Lithuania. Blue and black amber are more rare here.

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