Thursday, 18 December 2008


Amber jewellery has been a good addition to my stock lines. The real Mr Wood was never that keen on selling jewellery, preferring to keep the focus on fossils. When I took over, I had to bow slightly to financial demands and bring in some jewellery lines.

Amber was the first thing I tried, as it stuck close to the fossil ethos. I've tried to get stuff with simple settings, keeping the stone the important part. It's done very well for me, and I've expanded the range gradually.

We've always had amber with insect inclusions for sale, as hand specimens. It almost always comes from one of three sources - Chiapas in Mexico, the Dominican Republic and the Baltic. There's also young amber, copal, which is considerably cheaper and still contains some fantastically detailed insects. It's usually a little paler in colour, and a bit more brittle. More bug for your buck. Mostly comes from Colombia or Madagascar.

You get some hilarious amber fakery. It can be melted down, and then recently killed beasties crammed in before it hardens again. I've seen a grasshopper and a scorpion done like this, and I think the scorpion was in plastic, not even amber. It's usually very obvious, as they tend to be perfectly posed. As it happens naturally, it's not common to find nice clear lumps with a perfectly positioned insects with no flaws or other inclusions. You'd think the insects would put up some sort of fight, rather than succumb to the oncoming sap with dreary resignation. 'Ok - you got me - I'll just sit here and pose for the people who'll dig me up in a few million years.'

I want the amber fakers to get a bit more ambitious. I want somebody to come into the shop and say 'Look what I bought at a market in Lithuania.' And then bring out a huge lump of amber with the whole head of a tiger in it. Or a cuckoo clock. Come on - some imagination, please. Victorian taxidermists used to like posing animals in weird anthrapomorphic positions - frogs fencing, mice smoking pipes and all that. Now that - in amber - would be worth seeing.

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