Amber is found outside the Baltic Sea

Amber: Finding the Gold of the Sea

Status: 03.03.2020 2:22 p.m.

Amber, a fossil resin, fascinates people. Especially after cold, stormy nights, the light brown fragments wash up on the coast. Tips for collectors.

In autumn and winter, after stormy nights with onshore winds, attentive beach goers may, with a little luck, come across the gold of the sea: amber. The coveted fossil resin only drifts upwards when the salty sea water is cold and therefore has a high density. If, on the other hand, the water is warm in the summer months, the chances of encountering amber are poor.

Look for amber in autumn and winter

Amber is sometimes hidden between sand and shells. If you want to find it, you have to look carefully.

For this reason, collectors should ideally set off after the autumn and winter storms. As soon as it has blown heavily, however, there are usually other amber seekers on the beaches, so it is advisable to get up early. A flashlight in your luggage can be very useful. Amber is usually hidden between seaweed, wood, small stones and mussel shells in the so-called flushing area on the beach.

Recognize amber

Compared to real stones, amber is very light and shines in the sun. Raw amber often looks brownish to honey yellow, sometimes it also has a whitish, light yellow or reddish shimmer. If you are not sure whether a find is amber, you can easily knock against a tooth with it. A soft tone indicates amber - the similar-looking yellow flints sound much harder. The authenticity can also be checked with very salty water: amber floats on top. A woolen cloth is also suitable for a test: dry amber is electrostatically charged when rubbed and attracts scraps of paper and the like.

Phosphorus: caution, risk of confusion

However, it can be dangerous if collectors confuse phosphorus with amber: Phosphorus can ignite at temperatures above 20 degrees and cause severe burns. Caution is advised, especially on the Baltic Sea beaches around Rügen and Usedom - fortunately, however, the finds are still very rare. Since phosphorus and amber are difficult to distinguish from one another at first, it is advisable to first collect the supposed amber in a tin can or a mason jar and not to put anything in your trouser or jacket pocket.

Amber is a good place to find amber on these beaches

The chances of finding the fossil resin are particularly good after winter storms.

Collectors have good chances of finding amber on the beaches of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, especially on Fischland-Darß-Zingst, Hiddensee, Rügen and Usedom. By contrast, there is hardly any amber on the Schleswig-Holstein Baltic Sea coast. The search on the North Sea coast is more worthwhile: on the dune of Helgoland, in the mudflats off St. Peter-Ording and off Büsum as well as on the beaches of the East and North Frisian Islands. In some places, guided tours are offered to find amber under expert guidance. Particularly in the winter months, some seaside resorts also offer themed weeks in which holidaymakers not only look for amber under expert guidance, but can also process the finds into individual pieces of jewelery.

The fascination of amber

Amber has always fascinated people. Already 10,000 years ago our ancestors made jewelry from fossil resin, priests burned it because of the aromatic scent like incense. In ancient times, amber was a sought-after commodity, and in the Middle Ages people attributed magical effects to amber: it was considered a protector from witches and demons. Even today, many people believe in a beneficial effect on skin diseases and toothache. For example, an amber chain should help toddlers with teething.

Up to 400 million years old

The oldest amber in the world is 400 million years old. Baltic amber, which washes up on the beaches of the Baltic Sea and North Sea, was formed around 40 to 50 million years ago from the resin of subtropical coniferous forests.

Map: Amber sites in the north

Excursion tip: Ribnitz-Damgarten

Amber has been processed into jewelry in the city in Western Pomerania for 70 years. Visitors can get to know the place on a new tour in the footsteps of the painter Feininger. more

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North Tour | 07.03.2020 | 6:00 p.m.