What is Amber?
“What is that? Is that an amber? I love amber!”
These words light up faces whenever, wherever amber appears. But what is this curious honey-like substance?
Amber is a fossilized resin of extinct trees, which has been appreciated for its color and natural beauty since ancient times. Because it originates from soft, sticky pine tree resin, amber sometimes contains insects and plant material. The average age of Baltic Amber is approximately 45-90 million years old.
As the name refers, “Baltic Amber” finds and originates from the Baltic Sea in central Europe. The main difference between “Baltic Amber” to amber obtained from other areas is that “Baltic Amber” is approximately containing 8% – 10% Succinic Acid, which is why amber from the Baltic region is also referred to as “Succinite” or healing stone. This acid has an anti-inflammatory effect on humans, thus giving “Baltic Amber” anti-inflammatory properties which use as a healing agent.
Amber occurs in a range of different colors. As well as the usual golden (cognac color) that is associated with the color “amber”, amber itself can range from a whitish color through a pale lemon yellow, to brown and almost black. Other uncommon colors include dark red, amber (sometimes known as “cherry amber”), green amber, and even blue amber, which is rare and highly sought after.
Fake or Real?
Baltic amber is considered the highest quality in the world. But because amber is a lightweight organic fossil resin, it is possible to imitate using plastics, glass, casein, and copal. One test is to drop amber in saltwater. The real amber will float at the top, whereas most fakes will sink. Another test is to rub amber. Amber is warm to the touch and when rub it will become warm and electrostatically charged and will attract exceptionally light items.
Another method is to use UV light. This kind of light changes the amber color to blue. The deeper the color (blue) the better quality. In China they refer to this kind of amber as blue, amber.