Turkish villagers who used amber as kindling when they first found deposits two years ago are now cashing in after signing a deal to sell the valuable gemstone to a Chinese jewellery company.
Natural amber is fossilised tree resin which when cleaned and polished is considered a gemstone, but it can also be easily burned because it is hardened plant extract.
When locals in the village of Aydincik near the north-eastern Turkish city of Bayburt first discovered they had an abundance of amber two years ago, they used it as kindling for lighting fires.
Not only was the unusual substance flammable, but it also burned with an extremely pleasant odour, which made it popular as kindling until villagers learned that it had far greater value in the jewellery industry.
Locals have now signed a deal with Chinese jewellery design firm Huoruo Industrial Group after representatives visited the Turkish region to confirm the amber’s quality.
Heytam Haslak, who has been negotiating on behalf of the village, said they had reached a lucrative export agreement after providing samples for quality approval earlier this week.
Haslak said: “They liked our product. They took samples. We made a preliminary agreement. From now on, we will work to harvest and deliver the amber.”
According to the local news source Sozcu, company manager Shao Gunag Hui pointed out that amber is considered sacred in Buddhism.
He said: “The amber market in China is huge. Some 75 percent of the amber mined in the world is sent to China. It is mostly used for jewellery or in temples. When we look at around 5,000 years of Chinese history, we see that amber is also used in medicine, and as a sedative in the pharmaceutical industry.”
He said they planned to send a team to Turkey to dig for the precious resource and added: “We will import what we deem appropriate from the mine into China.
“Amber was only discovered in Bayburt in the last two years. Its production and processing are not very advanced.
He said they were considering building a factory in Bayburt to process the extracted amber which would then be sent directly to China.
Amber has been traded since the 16th century BC and was one of the most important commodities transported on ancient trade routes like the Chinese Silk Road and the Amber Road.
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Story By: Feza Uzay, Sub-Editor: Marija Stojkoska, Agency: Newsflash
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