4 tests that can identify if your amber is real
Ah amber, it’s in such high demand that often people will try to sell fakes! The nerve of some people. There are even cases of people drilling holes in the fake amber, putting an insect, or in some cases even a frog or a lizard in the replica stone, and then filling it back up, and claiming its a rare piece of amber with a wonderful specimen trapped inside it. It’s not easy to distinguish real amber from fakes, but we have some tests you can preform, and hints to help you along the way.
First of all, you need to be aware that fake amber is most often made from copal, glass, plastic, casein, and celluloid. Copal is also a type of tree resins, but this type of resins is very young (1 million years at most). Sometimes it has inclusions, but they are mostly fake. You can see that fake inclusions are usually too big and look too good. Glass can easily be distinguished from amber because it is harder than amber and can't be scratched by metal. Celluloid looks almost like real amber, but it is more solid and doesn't burn so well. And when it burns it smells like burnt plastic. Casein is a type of plastic made from milk. It is usually yellow. It looks almost like real amber, but it is heavier and also smells like plastic when it burns. Modern plastic falsifications are very hard to distinguish from real amber. When buying a piece of amber with inclusion look at the inclusion. If it is big (more than 10 mm) and very clearly seen or very well preserved, it is probably fake.
But if you want to be absolutely sure that you are buying the real thing, it would be best to buy amber in reliable stores.
1. The Buoyancy Test
The first, and most common test to preform is the buoyancy test. This only works on the amber stone, so if it is attached to silver, or any other kind of material, it will not give accurate results. The test is simple enough however – take two tablespoons of salt, dissolve in eight ounces of water, and drop the amber stone in question in the solution, if the amber sinks well we’re sorry, but that’s not real amber. Real amber will float.
2. The Taste Test
If you’re worried that your amber stone may just be a plastic replica, a taste test is a good way to distinguish the two. Gently clean your amber, and give it a quick taste, natural amber should give off no unpleasant or distinct taste, however its plastic imitations will give off the noticeable taste of chemicals.
3. Static Electricity Test
Amber is a good conductor of static electricity. If you have a piece of velvet rub the amber swiftly and rapidly against it until the amber is warm to the touch. Then place the stone over a tissue lying flat on the surface, the amber stone should attract the tissue – if it is real that is.
4. Saltwater Test
An easy way to test your amber jewelry to see if the amber is real is to float it in salt water. Just dissolve three tablespoons of salt in an eight ounce cup of warm water and drop your amber in: if it sinks, we’re sorry, but it’s not real! Real amber will float to the top. This test only works on pure amber, though, so if your amber is set in sterling silver or some other heavy material, your results will not be accurate.
There are plenty of ways to test amber out there, but these are some of the ones we feel most comfortable with. Shop with ease at The Russian Store, as we’ve yet to find an imitation among our selection of amber jewelry!