To visit the exhibition please click here to register.

20th-Century Amber

Between the two World Wars, European designers and jewellers returned to amber as an exotic and little-known material. Luxury houses, like Cartier, Mauboussin and Lacloche Frères, combined amber with gold, diamonds, and coral in wonderful Art Deco style vanity cases. For the middle-class market, amber was used on such accessories as men’s cufflinks, playing pieces, and cigarette holders. Amber’s strong appeal can also be gauged by an increase in the number of fake amber artefacts from that period.

In the Baltic states, amber’s status and role was transformed by the Soviet occupation after World War II. Under Soviet control, amber-rich countries like Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Poland became centres of amber mining and production. To appeal to the tourist industry, workshops produced standardized objects with amber detailing, such as tankards, shields, candlesticks, and necklaces. The Soviet branding of the material was such that amber acquired pejorative associations for the populations. Only after the end of Soviet occupation did local artists and designers begin to retrieve amber’s artistic heritage and traditional styles. This has led to a rejuvenation in amber jewellery and decorative designs.