Properties of Amber

Amber is lightweight compared to other gemstones. On Mohs hardness scale, it ranks as a soft stone. To put in perspective, diamond ranks at a 10, whereas amber ranks around 2-2.5. Because of its softness, amber is a more delicate gem. More, unlike other stones, it is warm to the touch – held longer, it warms more, generating a positive, uplifting current of energy.

Amber may be transparent to opaqueand occur in a range of different colours: from a whitish and pale yellow, to the most common “honey” (yellow-orange-brown) hues associated with the colour “amber,” to a deep brown and nearly black. Specialists differentiate 7 main colours and up to400 different shades of amber!The composition and colour of amber is determined by many factors, suchas the origin of amber, the sediments in which the amber has been deposited, the local climate, the formation of the near surroundings and the temperature in the ground. Colours such as red, green and blue are rare, and much on the market is heat or pressure-treated.

Blue Amber is the rarest shade (only about 0.2% of amber found) of all and particularly revered. It has a strong natural fluorescence under UV light, with an intense blue reflection in sunlight.Blue amber is found mostly in the Dominican Republic. Pieces of AAA quality are very rare and often more expensive than gold and diamonds. In antiquity, blue amber was preferred by the chief priests, as it was believed to control spirits of air, fire and water, and to get blessings from the gods.

Red Amber, often referred to as “Cherry Amber” or “Blood of The Dragon”, is the second most rare amber. Roughly only one in every two hundred amber specimens are red. The colour is very authentic and can be very deep. If a very dark piece of cognac amber is left for many years in open air with the right conditions around it, You will see the surface of the material oxidise and darken. This will make the amber look anything from wine red through dark brown and almost black, and usually opaque. Because of its colour, this stone has become especially popular among Japanese and Chinese people. Since this was such a difficult colour of amber to find in those days, only rich people could afford it.

Green Amber is very popular and only accounts for nearly 2% of the amber found. It usually originates from the tropical areas of South America. As it does not need to be processed, it is used for making expensive jewellery and also purchased by collectors. It has a green colour hue that ranges from light-green to nearly emerald green. The cost goes up as the shade gets greener, or any other colour, deepens on the stone. Green amber is around one million years old and therefore much younger than the classical Baltic amber. Throughout history, green amber was thought to bring immortality and good luck.

White or Milky / Ivory Amber is especially rare (about 1-2% of the amber found in nature). This yellow amber holds more gasses and more oxygen than other amber colours, therefore it seems white, milky, is opaque, non-transparent. Some refer to this as royal white, yet it truly looks like elephant tusk. In ancient times, such amber was considered the most valuable. Experts assured that it contains fewer impurities and therefore has the best medicinal properties.

Black Amber is not fully fossilized tree resin; it accounts for nearly15% of the amber found. Black amber was admired as the most expensive gem by Roman Emperor Nero. It was believed that black amber absorbs negative energy. Therefore, such pieces of amber were hidden in the cradle of the new-born, so that kid should be protected from the evil eye and spoilage. Adults also were hiding black amber gem under the pillow to protect against nightmares.

Yellow Amber is the most common and typical colour from the Baltic amber family, highly valued by people due to the high quality of the gem. The colour originates from the sap colour as well as the ageing of the amber over 30 to 50 million years. This colour does not contain as much air or gasses as the white or milky amber, hence its transparency.

Orange or Cognac / Whiskey Amber includes transparent cognac or whiskey coloured gems as well as opaque orange gems. Orange amber contains fewer bubbles than its yellow counterparts. Cognac colour can also have a sparkling look due to air bubbles trapped inside and can contain inclusions such as fossilized remains leaves, pieces of wood, insects, and other prehistoric pieces from the time it formed.

HANDY HINTS TO DETERMINE IF YOUR AMBER PIECE IS REAL:

▪️ Scrape amber piece with a knife: Fake amber flakes, while real amber is powdery.

▪️ Run salty water test: Real amber should float in salty water, while fake amber (made of thermoplastics or glass) will sink.

▪️ Hold in hands: As real amber is a poor thermal conductor, it will feel warmer to the touch than fake amber.

▪️ Electrostatic charging test:Real amber has electrostatic properties, thus rubbing an amber piece vigorously on wool or silk for some time, the static charge would be produced, able to attract a tissue paper or a strand of hair.

▪️ Heating test: Real amber, when heated, gives off a sweet pine-tree smell with a white smoke; plastics – smell like camphor or carbolic acid and have a disinfectant smell.

▪️ Solvent test: Putting a drop of ether, solvent or 95% ethyl alcohol on the surface of real amber there won’t be any reactions – amber won’t disintegrate, won’t become sticky.