There’s a very nice shop in the Hotel Latvia (obviously sublet space) that specializes in Latvian amber/silver jewelry. I like them because although they carry traditional designs, they also have the same beautiful materials in more modern designs as well. I have purchased some more modern pieces there…a perfectly matched set of the dark amber in pearl-like necklace and bracelet form.
Obviously there are many amber shops in Riga. :-) There’s an exclusively amber (in all it’s colors and forms) shop on Filharmonijas Laukums…on one of the corners near the Russian Theater. And another in one of the small inner squares of Jana Seta, the inner hotel complex, right across from a nice antikvariats…you can enter it through a back alley in back of St. Peters…not right in back of St. John’s, but one down. Also another well known shop in Melngalvju Nams…I have found very nice milk amber there (less popular and harder to find). As you can tell by the location these are definitely more tourist oriented shops.
But my favorite place to buy amber and silver jewelry in Latvia, in traditional styles, is really the Decorative Arts Museum, in back of St. Peter’s church and down the street from TGIF. Their gift shop is extremely small, run by a lovely woman who has run it for many year. They carry all kinds of beautiful Latvian handwork by local artists (weaving, silver/amber work, silk painting, glasswork you name it). Their prices are not bad and support the great museum. Also, the woman who runs the place knows all these artists well, and if you go in and chat with her for a bit, tell her what you might be looking for/dreaming of, she will arrange for custom work with individual artists if you like. I had my 7 days ring done there…I wanted one in rose gold (harder to find) with special styled tags…for a very good price. She also found me a Mara’s krusts in milk amber (my favorite) for a charm/necklace. They are quite nice pieces, beautiful and were done fairly quickly as well.
And if you are looking for something reasonably priced, reputable and well made in standard designs, there are two street venders who are always right across from the entrance to the above mentioned museum. For basic things, silver namejs rings, inexpensive amber/silver gift items (earrings, etc.) they are good. They have been there for at least the 7 years I’ve been going to Riga, remember me whenever we stop, and we’ve never had problems with the quality of anything purchased through them.
And one last thought. If you’re looking for something unique, a treasure…the market in Liepaja (think it runs every day in the summer) has a vender who sells amber jewelry in crude form strung into jewelry form. I have a beautiful long (and very chunky) necklace and bracelet of raw amber (right off the beach) that this guy hand picks daily. They are not fancy, not strung with anything fancy but you can certainly easily change that yourself. It’s a very interesting look and I don’t think the necklace and bracelet cost me more than $30 together…for a LOT of raw amber. I have received many compliments on this very unusual look.