The history of AMBERIF

AMBERIF & ITS AMBER MILESTONES

1994 the first edition of Amberif with 49 amber industry exhibitors
1995 the Mercurius Gedanensis Award for exhibitors is introduced to the Amberif programme
1997 Heidrun Mohr-Mayer presents Gdańsk with the Millennium Amber Fabergé Egg
1997
the first edition of the Amberif Design Award International Amber Jewellery Design Competition
1998 5th edition of Amberif: 320 exhibitors from 9 countries; division into the Gold Hall and the Amber Hall is introduced
1999 the Designers’ Gallery is featured for the first time
2000 the first edition of the AMBERMART International Amber Fair; the Amber Laboratory is introduced
2003 Łódź Academy of Fine Arts students present the Amber Sphere Award for design for the first time
2007 the first edition of the Amber Handicraft Award
2012 state-of-the-art AMBEREXPO becomes Amberif’s new venue
2018 Silver Jubilee: Amberif celebrates!
25 YEARS OF AMBERIF temporary exhibition at the Amber Museum.
The amber story of Amberif has continued for more than a quarter of a century—

Bullseye, or how it all began
The autumn of 1994 saw the first edition of Amberif. It had 49 exhibitors over 300 m2 of floor space, with several dozen buyers from abroad and a large group of amber collectors coming to the show. The hustle and bustle of trade talks were heard from the early hours. This determined the success of the event.
The idea proved to be a bullseye, mainly because the previously unattainable direct commercial contacts with a wide array of manufacturers became wide open. “At the time, in the Tri-City Area of Gdańsk, Gdynia and Sopot, not many people realised how big the amber community was, with manufacturers often working from home for a dozen or so larger businesses and cooperatives,” recalls Amberif Director Ewa Rachoń.
In 2018, Amberif held a grand celebration of its Silver 25th Anniversary.

Amber, science, art and fashion, or more than just a trade show
Since the beginning, when its shape and format crystallised, Amberif has included a programme of side events filled with the latest in design, art, fashion and science. Scientific seminars for jewellery and amber experts and enthusiasts initiated by Prof. Barbara Kosmowska-Ceranowicz and Wiesław Gierłowski, gemmology seminars held by the HRD Diamond High Council of Antwerp and the SRJ Association of Jewellery Experts, exhibitions of contemporary jewellery art, workshops, exhibition previews, presentations of the achievements of artists, artisans and designers, soon became Amberif’s hallmark.
The International Symposium on Amber. Science and Art was held in the year of the Silver Jubilee, attended by scientists from around the world who presented the latest reports on dynamically developing amber research in the natural sciences, exact sciences and the humanities.
As Amberif emerged out of a fashion fair, it has featured fashion shows right from the start. Today, the spectacular Amber Look trends & styles Amber and Fashion Gala, which presents joint collections from fashion and jewellery designers, is the crème de la crème of Amberif. It captivates the spectators with innovative ideas, surprising cuts and modern design. But it is amber that is always the common denominator.

A figure reading a book, or the first prize
Very soon, an idea came up for an exhibitor competition to promote novel design. The Grand Prix in the first edition of the Mercurius Gedanensis Award, for a masterfully executed silver figure reading a book, went to Bogdan Mirowski, the creator of the Amber Nightingale statuette for the Sopot International Song Festival. Many years on, the Award was named after him.
Two years later, in 1997, the Amberif Design Award International Amber Jewellery Design Competition was introduced. Artists from 40 countries have participated in its 22 editions to date, with a total of over 2,000 designs submitted.
Over time, the Amberif programme came to include more competitions: The Amber Sphere, with a highly prized award presented by the students of the Łódź Academy of Fine Arts to the show’s best design, and Amber Handicraft, in which goldsmiths and jewellers receive an award from the Pomeranian Skilled Craft Chamber of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises.

Masterpieces, or Amberif writes history
Amberif came to be a stage for momentous events, for the first time in 1997, when Gdańsk celebrated its 1000th Anniversary. To mark the occasion, at Amberif, the Gdańsk authorities received a gift—a masterpiece: the Millennium Amber Fabergé Egg with an enamelled Gdańsk coat of arms. It was presented by Heidrun and Herbert Mohr-Mayer, the owners of the Victor Mayer company which makes jewellery and items signed with the name of the famous jeweller of the tsars Carl Fabergé.
A year later, an inclusion of an ancient lizard embedded in Baltic amber, found by Gabriela Gierłowska in a seaside forest in the Gdańsk district of Stogi (known as Gierłowska’s lizard), became a worldwide sensation. Today, both these exhibits are some of the most valuable treasures in the collection of the Gdańsk Amber Museum.
Amberif also featured the first presentation of the famous amber monstrance by Mariusz Drapikowski, which became the starting point for the world’s largest amber altar at St Bridget’s Basilica, Gdańsk.
To this day, the majority of events important to the industry are announced right here at Amberif. It is here that we find out the names of the people who have contributed the most to amber promotion: honourees of the title of the Amber Personality of the Year. It is here that Trend Book is launched each year, published since 2010 by Prof. Sławomir Fijałkowski to systematise the current trends and motifs in jewellery and design.

Strength in unity, or amber conquers the world
Amberif also won friends and unified the amber community. In 1996, the International Amber Association was established on the initiative of Amberif consultants (today, with over 370 members from 38 countries, the IAA runs a specialist Amber Laboratory and is a member of the ICA International Colored Gemstone Association). Two years later, the members of the Association set up the KIGB Polish Chamber of Amber Commerce. The aim of both organisations is to promote amber and amber businesses.
In 2005, the City of Gdańsk adopted a program entitled Gdańsk: The World Capital of Amber, as part of its strategy and, on 28 June 2006, it established the World Amber Council. On the same day, the Mayor of Gdańsk Paweł Adamowicz opened the much-anticipated Amber Museum, in which the 25 Years of Amberif temporary exhibition was on display from 22 March until 2 September 2018.
In 2015, Expo Milano 2015 featured an exhibition on Amber. Tradition and Innovation; its organisers included the Gdańsk Amber Museum, the KIGB Polish Chamber of Amber Commerce and the Gdańsk City Hall. In 2018, its extended version visited Munich (at the invitation of the organisers of Inhorgenta) and Brussels. Visitors were shown 250 exhibits, including replicas of the bracelets presented to Michelle Obama and Rod Stewart, the amber gifts for Prince William and Duchess Kate, along with award-winning pieces from Amberif and Ambermart, and the collections shown at the Amber Look Amber and Fashion Gala.

Meeting, or what really matters
Each year, Amberif grew in strength until it became Poland’s leading jewellery industry event and one of the more important ones globally. The growing numbers of exhibitors required an organised approach. Initially, the exhibition was divided into the Gold Hall, the Amber Hall and the Designers’ Gallery where artists who experimented with materials and surprising connotations showcased their original collections. When Amberif moved to the state-of-the-art AMBEREXPO Centre, two additional thematic sectors came to be dedicated to silver and technology.
Amberif 2018 gathered more than 470 exhibitors from 15 countries, with trade visitors arriving from 54 countries! They came to exchange experience, opinions and knowledge. But most of all to be able to meet. “Meeting is the essence of a trade fair,” says Ewa Rachoń. “Without inspiring conversations, without positive feelings emerging among people it is impossible to establish true relations, be it commercial or personal. Jewellery is a special commodity: the contact with the artist is really important here, not only to find out more about the item but most of all to be able to share the passion and build the trust that is so important in this industry.”