Kaliningrad region is often called Amber Land due to its natural sources of amber, which is equal to 90% of the world’s amber resource, at its seacoast. Amber is the resin of trees from many centuries ago. This semi-precious stone is called sunny because of its color. Baltic amber can be milky white, honey like, yellow and brown. Pieces with inclusions of insects trapped in the resin centuries ago, are considered especially valuable.
Examples of the most wonderful amber discoveries, together with works made by skilled craftsmen, are kept in one of the main museums of the region – the Amber Museum. It is located in the center of the city on Vasilevsky Square. To visit it you should have cash with you as credit cards are not accepted there. Near the museum you can see many stalls selling amber products. Amber souvenirs and craftworks are sold there. Apart from traditional magnets and statuettes you can find pictures decorated with the sunny stone, boxes and jewelry made of amber, as well as beads, bracelets and earrings. More expensive jewelry with gold and silver can be bought in specialized shops.
Sunny stone is extracted at the Amber integrated plant which is located in the village of Yantarny. There is an observation platform there. You can see sand-pits and an amber pyramid from the platform. They say that spending some time inside the pyramid is useful for health. Scientists from Kaliningrad Technical University make amber ointments and lipsticks, but these amber cosmetics are not sold yet. Some residents of the region try to dig amber out of the sand by themselves. Police detect criminal groups engaged in illegal amber extraction and catch them. This offence is punishable in accordance with law.
Amber is not something unusual for the residents of the region, they are fond of collecting amber at the seacoast. On the beach once a year there is even a championship based on finding the sunny stone. As a rule locals go amber hunting in the morning after storms when waves cast ashore lots of amber stones, which often get tangled in seaweed. You should use a stick to find amber in seaweed knots.
The largest quantities of amber usually appear in Baltyisk, Pionersky and Yantarny. Many local people go for a stroll there and collect amber after stormy weather. Some inhabitants of Kaliningrad collect amber on a professional basis. They put diving suits on and take special nets and other equipment. In order to collect the biggest stones they go to sea even in storms, exposing their lives to danger. Later these people sell their findings. Quoting the words of one of these hunters, Vladimir, such hunting is not officially prohibited by law. But the people guarding order are interested in those who try to collect amber for selling, as it is collected for commercial purposes. To find good amber the seekers descend even to the sea floor using equipment that costs up to 100 000 Rbl.
However, Vladimir states that success sometimes does not depend on the fact of how many hours have been spent in the water, or with a net at the shore, but that it also depends on luck. From time to time waves throw out very big pieces of amber at the feet of holiday makers. If you decide to look for a sunny stone to have your own souvenir, do not forget to put on waterproof footwear and warm clothes. To tell amber from an ordinary stone, you should look through it at the sun. Transparent amber will let the sun rays pass and will sparkle with light. Milky white and honey amber will reflect the light. In case of any doubts you can ask local people. They will never mix amber with other stones.