A Sailor went to sea sea sea to see what she could see see see but all that she could see see see is the bottom of the Baltic sea sea sea!
Baltic amber is one of the four organic gemstones amber, coral, ivory, and pearls. The Greeks called amber elektro, the word means electricity because if you rub amber with a cloth it will become slightly charged, enabling it to attract a small piece of paper. However, since amber is organic, and is not inorganic with an ordered crystalline structure, it is NOT a mineral. The information listed on The San Francisco Gem & Mineral Society’s website said that there have been as many as 1000 different types of inclusions found in amber.
How do you determine real vs. imitation amber?
1. Because amber is such a poor conductor of heat, (unlike minerals), it feels warmer to the touch than glass.
2. When heated, amber gives off a sweet pine smell with white smoke. Plastics, when a heated smell like camphor or carbolic acid and have a disinfectant smell.
3. With a specific gravity of 1 - 1.2, amber is buoyant in seawater. The more transparent the amber the higher its density and lower its buoyancy. Float it in salt water (2.5 tablespoons of salt per cup). Amber will always float whereas thermoplastics or glass will sink.
4. Scrape the back with a knife. If it flakes, it's fake. If it is powdery, it's real.
5. If you rub amber vigorously on wool, the static charge will attract tissue paper.
The most valuable amber contain inclusions such as insects, seeds, leaves, and debris. Since amber is said to be very old it is unlikely you will find modern day insects. If you suspect the amber is real, but the insect, crustacean or barnacle has been added to increase its value, check very carefully for a small drill hole which was used to insert the insect and then filled with a modern resin. Often you will find tiny air bubbles coming out of the mouth of the insect as it died.
Although there are over 200 Polish "folk" names for amber and 80 variety names, i.e. "soily," amber can be broken down into land amber or sea amber. By color, amber can range from yellow to orange, red, white, brown, green (from decaying organic matter), bluish and dark shades of other colors giving a black appearance. Transparency can range from clear (transparent) to pale yellow to reddish-yellow.
Where Does Amber Come From?
The original source of amber is the Baltic Sea region consisting of Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Poland, Latvia, Estonia
Quaternary Amber can be found in Tanzania. This unique amber is older than copal resin but younger than Baltic amber, Madagascar, Alaska (derived from cypress trees), Sweden, Germany, and Poland.
Imitations made of plastics
Plastics, these are used as imitations:
• Stained glass (inorganic material) and other ceramic materials
• Cellulose nitrate (first obtained in 1833) — a product of treatment of cellulose with nitration mixture.
• Acetylcellulose (not in the use at present)
• Galalith or "artificial horn" (the condensation product of casein and formaldehyde), other trade names: Alladinite, Erinoid, Lactoid.
• Casein — a conjugated protein forming from the casein precursor – caseinogen.
• Resolane (phenolic resins or phenoplasts, not in the use at present)
• Bakelite resine (resol, phenolic resins), a product from Africa are known under the misleading name "African amber".
• Carbamide resins — melamine, formaldehyde, and urea-formaldehyde resins.
• Epoxy novolac (phenolic resins), the unofficial name "antique amber", not in the use at present
• Polyesters (Polish amber imitation) with styrene. Ex.: unsaturated polyester resins (polymals) are produced by Chemical Industrial Works "Organika" in Sarzyna, Poland; estomal are produced by Laminopol firm. Polybern or sticked amber is artificial resins the curled chips are obtained, whereas in the case of amber – small scraps. "African amber" (polyester, synacryl is then probably another name of the same resin) are produced by Reichhold firm; Styresol trademark or alkid resin (used in Russia, Reichhold, Inc. patent, 1948.
• Epoxy resins
• Polystyrene and polystyrene-like polymers (vinyl polymers).
• The resins of acrylic type (vinyl polymers), especially polymethyl methacrylate PMMA (trade mark Plexiglass, metaplex).
Amber's color can vary depending on the source of the hardened tree resin. For example, the most common golden yellow, white, and ivory colored amber comes from pine trees. Cherry and plum trees produce an amber with more red, orange and brown tones.
Although the rarest colors are red and green, Americans tend to prefer the transparent, warmer colors. Amber will gradually darken over the years as it is exposed to air. Other colors include butterscotch (milky white to caramel), cognac or honey, cherry (deep red - coming from pine and redwood trees - very rare), lemon (translucent - the most pure, green (green overtones), and antique.
No matter the color preference you have for you amber all amber is beautiful in its own way.