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Famous Gems and Beaded Jewelry: The Curse of the Amber Room

Earlier in my series about gems and beaded jewelry, I wrote about the Amber Room. If you missed that story, you can check it out here, but you don’t have to read that post to understand this one.

The Amber Room was an entire room made of amber panels and beaded jewelry. During WWII, it was stolen from Russia by the Germans, who installed it in a Kaliningrad museum. When things began to look bad for the Germans, the director of the museum crated up the Amber Room, with all its accompanying ornaments and beaded jewelry, for safekeeping. The city was bombed soon after, and the Amber Room was never found.

An amber sigil from the replicated Amber Room.

Its disappearance has inspired an army of independent treasure hunters, gemologists and beaded jewelry enthusiasts. One panel, bedecked with a beaded jewelry mosaic celebrating the five sense, even turned up in Germany in 1997. But seek the Amber Room at your own risk! It’s said to carry a curse. Many people who have dealt with it have met untimely deaths.

The German museum director, Alfred Rohde, was so entranced by the Amber Room, he would sit staring at the glowing beaded jewelry panels for hours. Later, the KGB questioned him about its fate, but he wasn’t talking. One night he and his wife suddenly “died” from an attack of “typhus.” However, when the Russians went to see the bodies, they had disappeared.

One Russian intelligence officer served as a source for a journalist who was investigating the room. Not long after, he died in terrible car crash.

Georg Stein is perhaps the most convincing—and frightening—case for the Amber Room curse. He was a dedicated amber room hunter. One day he was found dead in the middle of a Bavarian forest. He was naked, and his stomach had been opened with a scalpel. Yikes!

Ivan Sautov, the current director of the Russian Catherine Palace museum, doesn’t like to indulge in theories. But even Sautov has said, “The people who have concealed the Amber Room may be members of a closed circle, and anyone who comes too close to this circle will die.” Perhaps George Stein was getting a little too close to his goal.

The Amber Room certainly sounds like a prize worth chasing, but I think I’ll stick to beaded jewelry for now!

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