Amber Information

Amber Information

Published On: 06-29-2012 04:09am

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Amber is a natural material - from almost a clear translucent to an opaque gold or yellow. It is much lighter than other gemstones... because it is not really a gemstone at all, but fossilized resin from 35-50 million-year-old trees. Originally gooey in nature, it trapped dust and other particles, including insects. (The most valuable, and rare, amber pieces contain identifiable insects!)

Though amber can be found in several locations around the globe, I am most familiar with Baltic Amber - which I believe is the best quality amber. Millions of years ago, forests surrounded the Baltic Sea area - creating a plethora of amber in areas such as Lithuania, Poland and parts of Russia and Scandinavia. Apparently, it was so plentiful it was industrially mined. And my grandmother said when she was a little girl in Lithuania, it was easily found on the beaches.

True, natural amber is lightweight and warm to the touch; and though almost clear to cloudy, color is never completely clear or uniform in color. Originating as a slow solidifying organic matter, there will always be some sort of particles trapped inside, no matter how highly polished on the outside. 

Baltic Amber ranges from a pale golden yellow to amber in color – never red.

Some other tricks or tips for identifying true amber:

It floats in salt water. Dissolve as much salt in a cup of warm water as you can. Let it cool a bit, then immerse the amber – it will float, and not damage the amber (though do not leave it in the solution.)
Amber is usually ‘carved’, while plastic is ‘molded’ – showing softer edges and a uniform color.
Plastic bead will have seams – no seams in amber.
Amber can give off static electricity. Rubbed vigorously on wool, and the ambers should hold enough of a static charge to pick up a small piece of ash. Also, when warm enough, amber gets off a distinctive odor.

Amber Care

Water will not damage amber, but heat, dry air and chemicals will. Store your amber jewelry with care, keeping it away from heat and strong light. If you live in a dry climate, you may want to keep it sealed in a plastic bag. And being an organic material (like pearls and coral), keep it away from styling products and sprays. Put on your amber jewelry AFTER putting on your make-up and perfume.

CLEANING Amber is easy, though done carefully and gently. It’s best to use a flannel of soft cotton cloth. Dip an end in lukewarm water (clean water or with just a drop of soap.) Gently rub with the wet cloth to wipe away dirt or perspiration. Use a dry flannel cloth to gently polish it and wipe off any moisture.
Amber can dry out – becoming brittle and causing it to crack or shatter. To prevent that, and give your amber pieces a nice shine, polish them gently with a soft cloth moistened with a dap of olive oil. Just be sure to wipe away all excess oil. 

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