The multi-century journey of Baltic Amber from Sea to wear
The holy grail of Amber, the Amber Room of 1716 held over 6 tons of Amber. The collection gifted to Peter the Great of Russia has become a mystery.
The history of the Amber Room spans three centuries. Let’s explore its history and some of the theories of its status today.
The original room began creation in 1701 at the hand of a German designer for the King of Prussia. Given as a gift in 1716 to Peter the Great, the contents of the room were sent to the Russian to symbolize the alliance of the Prussian and Russian governments.
Later in the century, the room was moved to a larger space and redesigned by an Italian designer. Other semi-precious gemstones adorned the room, yet the attraction was Amber. For the following two centuries, the room received praise for its significance and the contributions of many cultures to its beauty. Peace was the feeling among the rooms observers until the second World War changed its history forever.
During WWII, the Nazis stole a significant amount of Amber between 1941 and 1945. The loot was kept as décor and hidden for the enjoyment of only German officers and officials. Even after the war, the Amber was hidden from authorities and coveted by Nazi sympathizers. The Amber was seen as something that was won in the war and now belonged to those Germans who had it in possession.
In Saint Petersburg, Russia, there was a reconstructed Amber Room made as a replica of the original room with donations from Germany. When the Russian government decided to recreate the mythical room, the German officials were only so happy to donate approximately $250M worth of the recovered Amber. The newly created Amber Room was finished in 2003 which helped to celebrate the 3rd anniversary of Saint Petersburg, Russia.
Many of the pieces added to the new room were recreations to replicate historic photos of the original room. Although the old room resembles the new, it can never be exactly recreated.
Many believe that the entire Amber Room was pillaged by the Nazi’s and the majority of the treasure remains in underground bunkers hidden in Germany. Others believe that the Nazi’s only were able to abscond with the lighter items and left the most valuable and fragile pieces in the room for Russians to eventually hide.
To this day, the mystery of the original Amber Room remains. Historians agree that the actual Amber room was disassembled by the Nazi’s and that the remaining pieces are spread throughout the world in private collections and others have been destroyed.
Perhaps the gap of knowledge helps to feed the curiosity that still holds the passions of historians. Like your first love, knowing that it existed somewhere in time is all the belief that you need to know that it was real.