What to do with a bag of Baltic amber?
January 4, 2008 8:46 AM   Subscribe

My father-in-law saved from the dumpster for me a bag of amber he tells me he picked up while combing a remote, access-controlled Baltic beach. They are mostly small, rough pieces, amber-colored (in case you were going to ask), and with different levels of occlusions and different surface textures. I don't want to just sell them, and it seems rude to do so. I have no idea what their value would be. I'm not a jeweler or crafty in any similar way. What can or should I do with them?
posted by newdaddy to Science & Nature (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
1. polish them.
2. try and return them to the beach they came from.
3. give them to kids.
4. Give them away on freecycle
5. Dump them in your yard
6. put them in a fishbowl/bottle with water/oil
7. Clone dinosaurs from trapped DNA


8. just sell them to some jeweler/rock collector/whatever
posted by edgeways at 9:04 AM on January 4, 2008 [5 favorites]

Send one to every mefite that mefi-mails you their address.
posted by hermitosis at 9:04 AM on January 4, 2008

YOU may not be a craftsperson or a jeweler, but you probably live close to one. Why not take the amber over to them and let them make you something? Jewelry is a good idea, something low-key that you can pass down to kids or relatives.
posted by uaudio at 9:12 AM on January 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

Are there any rock and gem shows in your area? This might be a fun thing to bring some kids or crafty people to. You'll be able to talk to people, learn more about the origin and nature of these rocks, polish them, get project ideas, and ultimately get waaaaay too excited about, well, a bag of rocks. Which will probably make your FIL, some kids, or gift recipients very happy.
posted by iamkimiam at 9:15 AM on January 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

Put in a nice bowl or glass jar. Display wherever your other oddments and curios live. Wash annually. Don't let a gift you don't really have that much interest in become a task.
posted by nanojath at 9:17 AM on January 4, 2008

Response by poster: No pictures as of yet. I will be traveling this weekend but will try to post one sometime early next week -
posted by newdaddy at 10:20 AM on January 4, 2008

Man, what a lucky find! I would wrap some wire around them and make pendants.
posted by agregoli at 10:55 AM on January 4, 2008

Clean them up as much as you can, then cast them in a thin block of resin. The you have something you can put in the window for the light to shine through. Or do some smaller ones, and use them as drinks coasters.
posted by Solomon at 10:55 AM on January 4, 2008

maybe you could trade them with a jeweler in exchange for jewelry. when you could then give back the jewelry to your father-in-law (maybe cufflinks?) or mother-in-law (good brownie points there) or wife (i assume you're married) anyone else in the family.

in fact this could work with any craftsperson. Jewelry is nice though.
posted by modernsquid at 11:24 AM on January 4, 2008

You could probably find someone who could string all the chunks together to make an irregular, bead-type necklace. If there are enough, it could make a pretty awesome multi-strand choker--sort of like this (though I'm personally imagining shorter and more irregular, YMMV).
posted by the luke parker fiasco at 11:46 AM on January 4, 2008

I would put them in a plastic bag and tape it to the window in the nicest way you can think of, so the light shines through but you can still use them later.
posted by sondrialiac at 12:07 PM on January 4, 2008

What modernsquid says!
Have a local jeweler make a couple of simple necklaces with some of the stones. Give one to Mrs. Newdaddy as well as your mother-in-law.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:08 PM on January 4, 2008

save them and give them to his grandkids. By the time they give them to their grandkids you will have an heirloom, and some great stories. These stories may bear no relation to the truth, but that's hardly the point.
posted by ubiquity at 12:10 PM on January 4, 2008

Are you sure it's real amber? I'd take one to a gemologist before going any further.
posted by Afroblanco at 12:24 PM on January 4, 2008

Send it to me and I'll throw it back into the Baltic for you.

Whoever wishes to get a true appreciation of the greatness of our age should study the history of electrical development. There he will find a story more wonderful than any tale from Arabian Nights.

It begins long before the Christian era when Thales, Theophrastus and Pliny tell of the magic properties of electron - the precious substance we call amber - that came from the pure tears of the Hellades, sisters of Phaeton, the unfortunate youth who attempted to run the blazing chariot of Phoebus and nearly burned up the earth. [...]
posted by pracowity at 12:26 PM on January 4, 2008

Best answer: Solomon's got the right idea if you want to display them: amber will become cloudy and darken if left exposed to air (the process is slow, and takes 10+ years of air exposure before you will see a significant difference, so it might not matter to you). Covering them with a thin coat of resin before making them into suncatchers, knickknacks, display in a bowl, etc., will ensure the amber color stays as it is.
posted by holyrood at 1:36 PM on January 4, 2008

You can carve it. You can make incense out of it (a waste if it is nice stuff). Or put it in a bowl, as nanojath said.

Or how about trading it to someone who could use it for something you want? Or give part of it to a jeweler, in return for them making something for you (or for someone you want a gift for) out of the rest of it?
posted by QIbHom at 6:53 PM on January 4, 2008

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