The exhibit depicts how amber was formed through natural processes of fossilization from prehistoric times (including a display about the intertwined paths of amber and the ant – which can sometimes be found forever trapped inside the former clusters of sticky sap), and how it was used in ancient times as an object of barter.
The fossilized organic leftovers from ancient pine resin have been treasured for millennia. As the exhibit’s promotional materials explain, Latvia’s history and culture have been shaped by amber’s prized status and value as both an object of art and trade.
It was a highly-valued element in the ancient world and served as an object of ‘export’ trade from the Baltic region to the civilizations of Ancient Egypt, Assyria, Greece and Rome.
In modern times, amber remains a sought-after component of jewelry, but due to its unique physical properties is also being morphed into new technological forms, for instance as amber threads woven into state-of-the-art textiles.
Jointly organized by the Latvian Embassy in the United Kingdom and the Presidency of the Council of the EU, the show was created by design team Mārīte Mastiņa and Rolands Pēterkops (under their co-pseudonym MAREUNROLS) and curated by jewelry designer Ivonna Poplanska.
Amber: The Baltic Jewel is open free-of-charge at the Goldsmiths’ Center until June 26.