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Amber Amber is formed from the resin which oozed from pine trees some 30 to 90 million years ago and gradually fossilised. It is found in several parts of the world, but the oldest source, some 40–50 million years old, is in countries around the Baltic Sea, including Latvia. The use of Baltic amber goes back a very long way: amber of Baltic origin has been found in Egyptian tombs from around 3200BC, and Baltic amber was regularly traded in Greek and Roman times. Animal figurines made of amber have also been found in Latvia dating back to the 4th millennium BC. After the Teutonic Order conquered Latvian territory, local people were forbidden to collect it on pain of hanging and only in the 19th century could inhabitants of the coast once again begin amber-working. Traditionally Latvian folk costumes made use of three items made from amber: beads, brooches and kniepkeni (fastenings for women’s blouses). All of these items, and many others, can be found in shops in Riga. Are they all real natural amber? Definitely not. Unfortunately the only recommended test to establish authenticity is hardly a practical shopping tip: make a solution of water and salt and drop in your amber. Only real amber will float.Dzintars, the Latvian word for amber, can be seen and heard all over Riga. It is the name of Latvia’s main perfume company, a brand name for a cheese spread, the name of a well-known choir, a children’s dance group, and is also a common first name (Dzintars for men and Dzintra for women).