Amber, fossilized resins that originate from various tree and other plant sources, has been used for personal adornment and other purposes for several thousand years. It has been found in various parts of the world, but the main historical source is the land that surrounds the Baltic Sea – principally in present-day Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad. Discovered on these beaches after storms and mined from nearby sedimentary deposits, amber is found in irregular shapes, usually in small sizes in yellow to orange or brown colors, and can range from opaque to transparent.
Besides its ornamental use, amber has been of great scientific importance because plant and animal life from the geologic past is often preserved in its resin. Amber from the Baltic region constitutes the largest known deposit of fossil plant resin and the richest repository of fossil insects of any geological age.