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Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Art and Craft of Amber Jewelry

I’ve always had a soft spot for the artists and craftsmen who create amber jewelry in northern Poland. I’ve visited there a couple of times for the annual Amberif trade fair and they’ve always treated me like family.

Amber jewelry isn’t for everyone. Many of the designs are big and bold and the material itself, prehistoric tree resin, is extremely light when compared to fine jewelry. But much of the jewelry being produced in northern Poland is fashionable and artistic and can easily compete on the world stage. One of the most celebrated amber jewelry designers and a central figure in the amber industry is Mariusz Gliwinski, head designer (along with his wife, Mariusz) of the family owned firm, Ambermoda.

I caught up with Gliwinski during the recently held JCK Las Vegas jewelry trade show. Every year he seems to produce jewelry that’s more thematic and avant-garde. This year he introduced Multi, a collection that uses silver, amber and other materials, such as bottle caps (see top). The inspiration for this collection is the ancient lamellar armor (consisting of small plates laced together in parallel rows) worn by ancient warriors in Asia, Europe and North Africa.

On a more traditional note, he introduced a collection of black amber hearts studded with diamonds and set in either gold or silver (left).

Below is a necklace made of different shades of light-colored amber with silver.

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