DISCOVER THE INTRIGUE AND BEAUTY OF “THE GOLD OF THE NORTH”. BY SHARON HUDGINS • PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY SHARON HUDGINS
When I was living in Munich, Germany, in the mid-1980s, a friend who’d recently returned from a trip to Prague could hardly wait to show me the amber jewelry she’d bought in Czechoslovakia. I knew, vaguely, that amber had something to do with jewelry. But I didn’t know what amber was, nor had I ever seen any amber jewelry myself.
When my friend proudly handed me the necklace and brooch she’d purchased in Prague, I couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about. That light-as-a-feather jewelry looked and felt just like cognac-colored plastic. I didn’t know why anyone would want to buy it or wear it.
Fast-forward to 1992, when my husband and I took a road trip from Munich to Poland, the first time we’d ever been to that country. At a hotel where we stayed one night, I wandered into a small jewelry shop in the lobby, run by a silversmith who said he’d made all the jewelry on display. I enjoyed looking at his artful creations, every piece made of amber in a well-designed, very modern silver setting. Although I appreciated his craftsmanship, the prices were far higher than I could imagine paying—and besides, I’m not someone who knows anything about jewelry or wears much of it myself.