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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.  Often copal is sold as amber when infect copal is 2 million to a couple of thousand years old is nowhere near the age of amber or the hardness. Copal is softer and usually can’t be brought to a nice polish. It is not particularly easy to identify fake amber from real amber, however there are several different testing methods to determine genuine Baltic Amber from imitations.


Test 1 – Salt water test

Fill a medium size pot with water, put about seven teaspoons of salt in it and stir well, stir again in thirty minutes or so as to mix well. when you drop amber in salt water it will float at the top, most fakes will sink.



Test 2 - The Static Test

Amber is warm to the touch and when rubbed it will become electro statically charged and will attract lint/dust particles and some very light items.Rub the bead briskly with a soft cloth to create heat then hold the bead over some small pieces of tissue. The amber should attract the tissue to the amber. 



Test 3 - The UV/Black Light Test

You can use black or UV light. Real Amber, regardless of the colour will show up as either Blue or a Yellow butterscotch Opaque colour under a ultra-violet light. Copal will show up as white while plastic does not react at all to the light. This is very reliable test although obviously not everyone has access to a UV or Black Light. 



Test 4 - The Acetone Test

Copal (immature resin) and plastic do not hold up to solvents.  Take a few drops of acetone (fingernail polish remover) or alcohol and drip it over the surface of your piece.  If the surface becomes sticky, or the fluid takes on the colour of the bead or piece of amber, chances are it's not genuine.



Test 5 – The Heat Test

Amber does not melt.  It will burn away like incense.  Copal will melt, as will plastic. Just heat a needle point in a flame until it is red-hot. Touch the heated tip to the bead or piece of amber. If the piece is plastic the material will melt quickly and give off a plastic, chemical smell. But you have to that a red hot pin will cause a piney smoke in genuine Amber.  Visual identification is the safest method. 

1/21/2019 4:00:44 PM