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Baltic Amber. The Greatest Passion of Ewa Rachon

In the ranking of people who most contributed to the promotion of Baltic amber in the world, she would certainly take first place. Although many other people also have their invaluable and huge contribution, she definitely overcomes everyone in terms of commitment, selflessness and effectiveness in infecting others with her passion, i.e. amber.

Ewa Rachoń with jewellery designer Mariusz Gliwiński during the opening of Ambermart 2019 Photo by MTG SA

Perhaps everyone knows Ewa Rachon. Her face is probably the most recognisable among Polish personalities associated with Baltic amber. She has been the Director of AMBERIF, the International Fair of Amber, Jewellery and Gemstones, since 1994, and the Director of AMBERMART, the International Amber Fair, since 2000, and honoured many jewellery trade fairs in the world with her presence. Being the greatest and most recognisable Ambassador of Amber and the Polish amber industry, able to make it attractive like hardly anyone, she made the right assumption that amber is so beautiful that it leaves no one indifferent. She learned this feeling well from an autopsy – if it were otherwise, work would remain just a job for her, while it has become a great passion from the very beginning. This love, combined with the conviction of the legitimacy of her aim, made it everything possible for her. When she came up with the idea of an Amber Fabergé Egg for the city of Gdansk, she did not give up until she reached what she had strived for (although many expressly voiced doubts over her). The first thing to do was contact Victor Mayer from Pforzheim, which had exclusive rights to design, manufacture and sell Fabergé jewellery all over the world. What happened next probably surprised her: the wife of the company’s owner, Heidrun Mohr-Mayer, turned out to be born in Gdansk, and immediately welcomed the idea (besides, this marked the beginning of a beautiful friendship between the ladies). This is how the Millennium Fabergé Egg was created and donated to Gdansk on the 1000th anniversary of the city, today being one of the most important and most admired exhibits of the Amber Museum in Gdansk. There are many more exhibits that got to this institution thanks to her. Before the city of Gdansk decided to establish the museum in 2000, she kept on repeating over several years that a city famous for its amber traditions must have its own amber museum and that it should be established by amber craftsmen. To set a good example, she was one of the first to donate several pieces of jewellery from her private collection to the newly opened facility and thus “infected” many others with this action. In this way, the foundations for contemporary and natural collections were created at the Amber Museum in Gdansk. Anyway, Ewa occurs in many places where something related to amber or dedicated for amber is happening – when the private Amber Museum in Krakow was opened in 2014, she also donated a unique gift from her private collection. Whether in Gdansk, Krakow, Kaliningrad or Rivne, Vilnius or Copenhagen, Baltic amber is our common good after all and we should care for it as best we can. Ewa lives on amber, thinks on amber, feels on amber and works on amber – a large part of her life, not only professional, revolves around amber and the opportunity to show people how wide and beautiful the world is. And in Gdansk, the World Capital of Amber, which gained this title also through her commitment and development visions, which already in 2001, she described in her postgraduate thesis concluding her studies in marketing and PR, which dealt with the issue of creating the image of amber as the Polish national brand. 20 years ago she wrote about creating the image of amber, including such elements as the use of experience and secular traditions, the use of natural raw material in jewellery, fine art creativity based on improved professional and artistic education, combining amber only with precious jewellery materials and certification of raw material guaranteeing safe business transactions, as well as about the need for a stronger identification of Gdansk with amber. Suffice it to say that the urban project titled Gdansk – the World Capital of Amber was launched in 2006 on the basis of assumptions developed in 2004 and was included in Gdansk Development Strategy by 2015. Ewa Rachon, along with a team of five experts in the field of manufacturing, trade and art, created the concept of Amberif and Ambermart and by 2019 had a decisive impact on the development of both events. Today they are the most important platforms for the presentation and promotion of products made of Baltic amber and their producers in the world as well as Baltic amber itself through, among others, seminars, fashion shows and international competitions. But amber means much more to her than just trade fairs – it means being active in many other fields: she is a founding member of the International Amber Association (in the years 2003-2011 acting as the vice president) and a co-founder of the National Chamber of Amber Commerce. She participated in projects aimed at developing a uniform naming of Baltic amber and its certification as well as in the works of the International Amber Association (IAA) for the International Coloured Gemstone Association (ICA), co-creating publications on Baltic amber. She has a member of the World Amber Council since its founding in 2006. For involvement in the promotion of Baltic amber, she has received a number of awards and distinctions, including the title of Amber Personality of the Year 2002 and the Medal of the Mayor of the City of Gdansk (2013), the Distinction by the Marshal of the Pomeranian Voivodeship for the promotion of amber heritage and design (2013) as well as the Bronze Cross of Merit of the President of the Republic of Poland (2013). To sum up the 25th anniversary of Amberif in 2018, she wrote: “How do I see the 25 years of Amberif? Probably as a magical drop of amber, the capsule of time that passes, and at the same time develops and grows more beautiful, arousing curiosity and drawing in more and more fanciers. And there is no way to free yourself. Some say it is ionization, others that it is succinic acid, while I think, it is the energy of talented people that determines the attracting power of amber.” Ewa, thank you for giving us an opportunity to be with you in this wonderful amber capsule of time and we hope that our amber – and social – paths will cross again more than once in the future.

ADAM PSTRĄGOWSKI, PRESIDENT OF S&A JEWELLERY DESIGN Ewa Rachon has always been and will remain the ambassador of Polish producers in the jewellery industry, and for me personally, she is an advocate and friend of amber, which she praised in the world at every opportunity. I am convinced that Ewa has permanently left a mark in the history of building Amberif as the largest amber event in the world. One could list many of her credits and talk about her contribution to the promotion of our environment. Yet the most important thing is that she never refused support, she was the voice of producers and artists creating globally recognised Polish design. I know that Ewa Rachon is the one and only, but we would all like to have as many such Ewas as possible – humanly wonderful and strongly involved in building the recognition of the Designed in Poland brand.

MARCIN TYMIŃSKI, PRESIDENT OF GOLDSMITHING ARTIST’ ASSOCIATION I remember my first Amberif show, and I can’t believe that after 26 years Ewa Rachon will not be there anymore ... How was Amberif different from other shows? Definitely, the atmosphere! Such an atmosphere could be created by only exceptional commissioners, engaged in their work that they understood as building relationships with exhibitors and even visitors. For her, people were always the most important, and so we always felt it. Thanks to this, for her and for us, Amberif has become something more than just a workplace. And work has become an even greater passion!

ELŻBIETA SONTAG, Faculty of Biology, Department of Invertebrate Zoology and Parasitology / Laboratory - Museum of Amber Inclusions

Ewa never had a shadow of doubt that amber is not only jewellery and that at the show dedicated to amber jewellery there is also room for inclusions, and so from the initial editions Amberif was accompanied by the Paleontological Gallery (then Paleoentomological). The opening of Amberif to the world of science undoubtedly enriched the event greatly, which quickly became an important centre for meetings of scientists from around the world and presenting the current state of research, as well as a place for networking and even establishing international friendships. This “human” factor is extremely important. For her the show was not a place, but people who came to this place. And she knew how to take care of them so that they would like to come back to Gdansk every year.

Ph.D., D.Sc.,Eng. Ewa Wagner-Wysiecka, GUT professor Faculty of Chemistry, Department of Chemistry and Technology of Functional Materials Gdansk University of Technology Ewa Rachon is a magical and energetic person, endowed with incredible charisma. Ewa believes that amber is extraordinary, just as people can be extraordinary. She has the gift of gathering people around her. Without this quality, it would be impossible to create such incredible events as Amberif and Ambermart, where natural history speaks from every place through the voice of producers, artists and scientists. Apparently, each of them perceives amber differently: jewellery, the material to manufacture a piece of work, life trapped in inclusions, or finally a substance with unique properties. However, Ewa made the show not just a trade event. It has become a place where we learn about amber, where we also learn about each other. We who all are connected by amber. Thanks to Ewa Rachon, science is also an important element of the phenomenal organism – the international amber show in Gdansk. In countless creative discussions and conversations, we search for answers to questions posed by amber. I have experienced this many times, when co-creating the Amber Laboratory for over 10 years at the Amberif and Ambermart shows, and recently also continuing the scientific Amber Seminars initiated by Wieslaw Gierlowski and Professor Barbara Kosmowska-Ceranowicz. It was at the show that many inspirations for actions and many friendships were initiated, which also last as national and international scientific contacts. The Amberif and Ambermart shows, a globally recognised work that has been developing by Ewa Rachon for many years, confirm that amber unites – regardless of the perspective from which we perceive it. Ewa, thank you from the bottom of my heart for all these years.

JOANNA GRĄŻĄWSKA, HEAD OF THE AMBER MUSEUM IN GDANSK Since the establishment of the Amber Museum in Gdansk, that is for twenty years, Ewa Rachon has been our ambassador. Having direct contact with artists, she actively encourages them to supplement the museum collection with gifts. She admits that the jewellery she passed to the museum collection, i.e. seven artistic works, is an example of her commitment to museum collections. Ewa Rachon assisted our institution as a member of the Amber Museum Council and an expert. She gave opinions on purchases of works from contemporary artists as part of obtaining grants from the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage. Her contribution to the process of founding the Amber Museum and its collections is enormous and worth reminding.

You can find this article on BalticJewelleryNews Online

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