A warm hug, a comforting fire, the glowing sunset. The light of creation, the purity of the Saints, the glory of God. Somehow all of this is wrapped up in the amber beads.
Each bead is unique like the countless lives of the Saints. Each glows in the light, letting it shine through its transparent body. It reminds me of the verse, “a city on a mountain cannot be hidden, nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel.” (Mt. 5:14-15)
We are the light of the world, and we are to share the light with all in this world, sharing with them the good news of the Gospel, not hiding away. “The glory of God is man fully alive, but the life of man is the vision of God” St Ireneaus. If God’s glory is man fully alive, then man’s life must be a noble thing.
Remember this as you pray the rosary. Your life is a noble thing. It’s God’s life and light shining out through you. Enter into that light, that heart of God, and do what you were created to do.
On amber, and on the history of this particular rosary:
I’m Polish, so I have always had a love of amber. It’s the most beautiful and wonderful jewelry bead in the history of beads.
I’ve been wanting to make an amber rosary from the moment I started making rosaries, but I didn’t know the most important step – where to buy genuine Baltic Amber when you live in the US. It took a couple years, but I eventually found someone that looked legitimate, and I’m thrilled to say, given the tests, I have found genuine amber.
But how to string it into a rosary?
The beads sat and sat. I wasn’t confident that using metal beading wire would be the best option – I was worried the wire would be too abrasive to the softness of amber (Mohs hardness of 2-2.5) and that all the pressure would be on the beads, leading to breaks. It just wasn’t the best option.
A year later I discovered silk cord; the traditional and most common way to make amber beaded necklaces. You tie a tiny knot between each bead and there is enough flexibility and softness that the amber is protected.
But it was ugly.
It looked so cheap and plastic-y. If it was a necklace, it would have been perfect since the necklace is half hidden by the neck and clothing, and with movement it looks showcases the refracted light.
But this was supposed to be a rosary. Something to honor Mary and bring us to greater devotion to God. Here are the most intricate and beautiful beads that come from fossilized tree sap millions of years old, washed through the sea and now polished to a crystal clear shine, showcasing all the imperfections in each fossil, which is even more beautiful when many bits of these fossils are all together.
The silk simply would not do.
So I sat on them for another year.
Then one fateful day in August 2022, I found another rosary maker who did wire wrapped beads with tiny loops, and this was the gamechanger. I had only ever seen big, bulky loops done before to the point that I didn’t think it was possible to make delicate links.
And I have been loving, loving, loving antique items. People back then put time and effort into everything they did and everything is soft and warm, like candlelight. This is why I chose bronze over sterling silver or gold.
Now, you may be thinking, what’s the big deal with this wire wrapping?
So, if you notice on each bead link, there are two wraps between the loop and the bead. This is the wire turning back on itself and making it so the link NEVER opens up. That means no pulling it out of the rosary pouch only to find it in three pieces.
And because of the thick 20 gauge wire, this means no spontaneous snapping of the link.
It’s a rosary that is literally meant to be heirloom. My other rosaries are sturdy, but this one should never need to come back to me.
But PLEASE remember that all things can break with excessive use. Under normal, conscientious use, there will be no spontaneous breaking of these links, but, for instance, if you keep this rosary in a tight pocket every day, all day and get it crushed under you or against something, the amber can break.
Repairs can be made, and I would be delighted to do so, but as time goes on, I might not have extra amber or I might be gone. So do be gentle and take good care of your rosary. (If you want an unbreakable rosary, get a knotted cord rosary.)
Also. Huge important PSA about amber. Amber is not a strong stone. It is fossilized resin. It has imperfections, hairline cracks, bubbles, and bumps that are a part of genuine amber. Fake amber doesn’t have these imperfections. But if you slam this rosary against something, or drop it too many times, a bead can break off.
Given the method of wire wrapping, most of the pressure on each bead is redirected to the wire (which is one of the reasons I chose this as the ultimate method). In order for a bead to receive the pressure itself, it would have to be compressed or the link would have to be bent so far that it rips through the bead.
Knowing this delicacy in amber, I have checked each bead multiple times to ensure that any cracking is benign and unlikely to result in a catastrophic break.
After all that warning, what is the value of genuine amber?
Amber secretes succinic acid which acts like a natural Ibuprofen when absorbed by the skin; it blocks pain and reduces inflammation. Unlike the “healing” stones and crystals of New Age thought, amber literally secretes this acid. Is it just an old wives tale on how effective it is? I don’t know. but it is really an interesting concept for a rosary, that it’s also a natural healer when used. Though they say you absorb the succinic acid the best when worn (ie as it is warmed up by your skin and rubs into it constantly), but I wouldn’t recommend wearing a rosary like jewelry.
Genuine baltic amber, 8x10mm oval beads. This listing is for this exact rosary shown in the photos. It is much larger than my normal rosaries, measuring at 31 inches long, but it will still fit in the palm of your hand. Amber is very lightweight so the rosary is not heavy.
4mm copper hematite spacers
solid bronze wire, 20ga
Immaculate Heart of Mary with Sacred Heart of Jesus solid bronze centerpiece
Sacred Heart of Jesus solid bronze crucifix
centerpiece and crucifix made from casts of authentic vintage Catholic medals. The detail is stunning, and the bronze will last without changing.
Bronze is the cost effective alternative to sterling silver – it has the longevity at a fraction of the price.