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NATURAL ANTIQUE AMBER COLLECTING

Opaque Amber

Natural opaque amber, especially those with high collection quality, is rare in the market. Though the densest amount used to be in Tibet, that has been exhausted for a long time so people have had to turn to other sources. Most opaque amber comes from the Baltic Sea. Though ones from Tibet are more expensive, that’s just because they’re rarer; those from the Baltic are just as high quality. Dark color amber is generally more valuable than light color. Orange, red and brown are especially valued in Asia.

Opaque amber can be divided into barrel beads, ball beads, abacus beads, and chip beads. The thicker the opaque amber, the more difficult it is to preserve and thus the more valuable it is. To determine the age of opaque amber beads, we can observe their thick tone and cloud form as well as the surface’s weathering ring. If the surface layer has been abraded, the color will be lighter than that outside. In general, the older the beads, the deeper and thicker the wear will be.

Scan the outer layer with light or a magnifier; there will be dense and exquisite weathering ring (especially in the duct), often accompanied by wind cracks. The cracks will be confined to the weathering ring -- a long and thin outer layer but not densely distributed. If the crack extends to the inside, the entire bead has been destroyed. Shining a light on it can show whether the old opaque amber beads have irregular lines in cloud form inside. However, these tests aren’t perfect. Not all old opaque amber beads have evident pulp and internal lines. For example, most old barrel beads do not have a distinct cortex.

Older opaque amber beads have the color of honey and the appearance of wax, and are mild and solid on the whole. If they have been used for a long time, there will be bright oil that will leave a slight pine aroma on the hands. Though these methods for detection aren’t perfect, they can greatly assist people in determining the age and authenticity of amber.

Clear Amber

The clear ambers found in the Baltic were formed ages ago. Hence, they are highly valued among collectors. Furthermore, blue amber from Dominica is rare and is a special favourite among collectors. Ambers with less impurities inside or containing insects, flowers, plants or leaves will have higher value (inclusions such as insects are not regarded as impurities). Generally, the bigger and the sharper the inclusion, the more valuable it will be.

From the collector’s point of view, ambers with rare ancient animals and plants are an invaluable asset. Currently, the rapid advancements in technology and simulation techniques have resulted in some illegal merchants producing fake simulated amber by implanting insects into amber powder. The substance appears very similar to natural amber; therefore, we would like to kindly remind all collectors to pay special attention to this phenomenon.

In addition to the test methods mentioned above, you could use the following trade secrets. When creating artificial amber, the resin flows around the insect or plant very quickly. A round bubble may sometimes form inside the natural amber while artificial ones only have flat bubbles. Natural ambers exhibit unique insect image and arrangement; artificial ones appear to be rigid and orderly. The cirrus of ancient insects is longer than that of present ones. Moreover, genuine amber has a relatively small volume; while fake ones are much bigger.

However, the safest method is to have your specimen professionally verified by a laboratory or a museum. All the amber goods offered on this website are genuine. Before each purchase, it is your option to order individual certificate issued by North American Gem Labs or professional appraisers. There will be no charge for any item that is proven fake, so buy with confidence!

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