How to recognize real Amber?
Over the years the demand of Amber has increased due to its popularity among European mum’s using it on their babies. By discovering the power of unique properties of Amber, women have discouved the benefits of these stones. Amber necklaces are sold in chemists, as a natural teething solution in a form of Necklace/bracelet to control pain, stress and promote tranquility and inner peace.
As the demand for Amber increases there is also an increase in the number of unauthentic Amber especially in the jewelry industry. The issue with Amber imitation is although it looks very similar to real Amber, it can easily be mold in different shapes and sizes and considerably cheap, it does not contain the same quality, properties and benefits of authentic Amber. This is the reason why I would recommend that you refer to a trustworthy source when purchasing your Amber jewelry, unless there is a certificate of authenticity available, to avoid any disappointments.
How to recognise authentic Baltic Amber from Imitation.
Baltic Amber is a fossilized tree resin around the Baltic sea, which has been around since the Neolithic time. It can take thousands of years before the resin is extracted from the tree and molded into its shape, therefore it is very likely to find insect remains inside Baltic Amber. Because of its natural beauty and shiny finish Baltic Amber resembles very much to a gemstone.
Below I have highlighted different tests that one can carry out to identify authentic Amber from imitation and different materials that are used to make Amber imitation.
How to identify authentic Amber
- Saturated salt-water test
This is the most common and preferable test. Simply add salt (seven teaspoons) into 250ml of cold water and stir for half an hour. Then place a bead inside the mixture and check if it floats. If the bead floats then it's genuine. (Source: nms.ac.uk)
- Smell and Static test
Besides, when you rub real Amber for a while, it gets charged as it has some electrostatic properties. When you further hold this charged gemstone near a strand of hair, the hair will get attracted, which means you are holding real Amber. The fake Amber will not get charged during the process and will only get sticky. (Original Source)
- Scratch test
This test is ideal but less preferred for distinguishing fake Amber as it may potentially damage the stone. You need to scratch the Amber with a pin and if your amber created jewelry is not getting scratched with a pin then it's fake. (Source)
- UV test
The color of the amber changes when you apply UV light to the bead. It can be assured that the bead is fake if there are no changes in the color of Amber. (Wikihow)
- Reflection test
If you have excellent vision power, this is the easy test you can try out. When you look at the surface of Amber, the reflections on the amber stone always show up the downside. That means, with the real Amber, the images will reflect in the downside position.
Amber imitation and its properties
- Stained glass
You can easily distinguish glass from Amber as glass is more solid and cannot be scratched by metal. Also, it is cold and fireproof.
No one can tell the difference at first glance if you put celluloid and Amber together. However, when you burn celluloid, a smell like burnt plastic diffuses, which is a clear sign that it is not a real bead. Amber is combustible.
- Celluloid nitrate
Cellulose nitrate, a product of treatment of cellulose with nitration mixture, is usually yellow and cloudy. It is hard to visually differentiate it from Amber, but after heating, it diffuses the smell of burnt plastic. (Original Source)
Like Amber (in appearance), casein, a conjugated protein forming from the casein precursor, is made from milk. A plastic-like material, a little heavier, can be distinguished by burning it, as it too smells like burnt plastic.
Copal is a younger form of tree resin that is sometimes sold as Amber due to a similar appearance. However, as a primary difference, Copal melts rather than burns at a lower temperature, Amber does not. (Source)
Plastic is also used to produce artificial Amber and inclusions. The beads indeed are too perfect but not at all contain any of the characteristics of natural Amber.
At Marie France design we use plastic amber imitation for creole earrings and other necklaces to get the perfect shape and light finish.
Some more names are Galalith, Bakelite resin (resol, phenolic resins), Carbamide resins, Epoxy novolac (phenolic resins), Polyethylene, Epoxy resins, the resins of acrylic type, etc. (Wikipedia)
Resolane (phenolic resins or phenoplasts, not in use at present)
Phenolic Resin is found in artificial amber beads. These beads are shaped oval, faceted, and the color is very similar to real Amber. The fact differs it from the original ones is, it does not exude the smell of pine-tree resins, and Baltic Amber does.
Overall there might be more ways to Identify authentic Amber then I have mentioned above and I hope this information was helpful to you. Always remember to rub the amber on your end and feel that warm stone feeling and a slight piney small, this is how I usually do it. Also make sure you ask to see the Amber authenticity certification when purchasing your piece of Amber Jewelry to be 100% sure of its authenticity.
Marie France Ingrand
Head Designer and Founder @MarieFrance_design
Email me here: email@example.com