mardi 11 octobre 2011

Baltic Amber Charm Beads : How Are They Made and What Are They Worth?

Amber is a fascinating material not only because of its age (between 40 and 50 million years old), but also for its qualities. Amber is very pleasant for wearing thanks to its lightness. It’s not a rock, so it really does not matter how large your amber jewelry: even the chunkiest piece would feel like a feather in comparison to other gem stones. Only setting materials like silver or gold can make it feel heavier.

Charm beads made out of Baltic Amber are a real treat. They roll around your wrist or neck warming with your skin creating a pleasant sensation that you wear something truly yours. Many books are written on healing power of amber like its use for rheumatism and arthritis treating (that is why it is recommended for people over 50), ears, teeth, eyes and stomach-aches relief thanks to the natural minerals fermented and petrified in fossilized tree resin that is amber. It is up to you to believe it or not, but the truth is that it is always a bit “disappointing” to take off you amber beads bracelet in the end of the day. You feel like to give away some part of your energy, accumulated in the amber during the day.

Amber is hard to work with: it is a brittle material (hardness 2+), so it might crack or break. Before a beautiful bead created, jeweller has to evaluate the raw material. If there are inner cracks, the stone is not a workable stone for carving and drilling. Since there are so many ways of treating and working of Baltic amber, charm beads can be as diverse as any other amber jewelry.

Each bead is made individually by hand and there is little machinery involved in the process of charm beads making: mainly for cutting, drilling, polishing and faceting the ready product.  

Customers often ask me what is worth of buying: treated amber beads or untreated. Baltic amber as it is found in nature looks dull. Only hours of cleaning, working, polishing and eventual treating to make the color more intense (which sometimes can take days) creates gorgeous pieces with sparkles and bubbles which you enjoy wearing. 100% natural untreated beads come only in Butterscotch, Lemon  and a little part of Green beads with inclusions. All other hues undergo certain treatment. Treating can affect the amber price too: imagine that someone spent hours creating something that looks like a trapped sunray, playing with light and giving gorgeous reflexions. It is definitely harder than just to take a raw piece, drill it and put on a cord. Hundreds years ago Prussian craftsmen developed numerous techniques of treating amber in order to make a piece of jewelry shimmer and shine. They even boil amber in oil for long hours to remove imperfection! Follow your heart: buy amber which grabs your attention, goes with your complexion or style.

There are a few companies that make charm beads. Trollbeads is probably the most famous. Also because they are famous their prices can reach $60 per piece since the beads are made by designers and, certainly, stamped by desired Trollbeads mark. The techniques they use are absolutely identical to those as used in small amber workshops in Lithuania. Trollbeads also made one-of-a-kind beads of exceptional design and fancy faceting. But keep in mind that you pay 90% for the brand.

Here is Amber Regina's collection of Baltic Amber Charm Beads

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