You are probably already aware of this issue, as it is a very common one - humans always find new ways to copy nature. As soon as amber was discovered, natural materials were also made into less valuable copies and slowly brought into the market. These pieces were used as jewellery and, naturally, their price was high.
Nowadays fake Baltic amber has flooded the market, and many people doesn’t notice that. People intend to purchase these amber pieces and think of them as genuine because they cannot tell the difference. Gladly, it’s not that hard to recognize the real amber. The first step - purchase amber only from a trustworthy source. The second step - apply one of the tests.
TESTS to identify fake amber:
1. The Salt Water Test (Easiest & Most Effective):
This test is very easy and effective. Simple instruction: mix two cups of warm water with a quarter cup of salt in a bowl, then stir the mixture until the salt has completely dissolved. Once you have done this, place the piece of amber in the solution. If the piece of amber floats to the top then it is indeed authentic amber.
2. The Rubbing Test (Simple & No Mess):
One of the easiest methods - rub amber on the palm of your hand and if it’s a real amber, it should give off its iconic smell. This occurs due to the heating effect produced by friction between your hand and the amber piece. If you employ this method and there is no pine-tree scent, then your amber piece is most likely not authentic.
3. The Feel Test (Straightforward & Super Easy):
Genuine amber is lightweight and slightly warm to the touch. This is due to it being underground for millions of years and because of its chemical composition. You can distinguish fake amber that is made of glass from the real thing because glass is harder, cooler, and heavier than authentic amber.
4. The Hardness Test (Quick & Uncomplicated):
Another important and easy way to check your amber piece is by checking its hardness. By conducting this test, you can immediately determine whether the amber piece is real or not. Genuine amber is relatively soft. Most fakes are either hard solids or have that plastic feel to them. With small beads, all you have to do is press them between your thumb and index finger.
5. The Heating Test (Best Done by Amber Experts):
This test is mostly used to check if the amber piece contains any other materials. Natural ambers contain small bubbles in its microscopic structure. When you apply heat to amber, these bubbles evaporate making the amber piece transparent. The higher the temperature, the darker the amber becomes.
Note: Do not conduct this test on small amber beads, as they will melt completely.