Amber is a natural tree resin that can be molded into the same shapes as chemically-made “plastics”. Most amber used in jewelry will range from yellow to brown in color. It runs a range from transparent to translucent. You might see a perfectly clear piece with no “cracks” or inclusions or your amber may be full of these. There is an immature type of amber, not as desirable, known as copal amber. It will not stand up to the tests below. So, if you have something that looks like amber but doesn’t pass these tests, it is copal amber or a plastic. There are several tests to identify amber (some more sophisticated tests which I’ve not mentioned here but can be found on the Internet). Yy favorite test is the static test.
Static test: Rub your amber against a cotton cloth. It will become electrostatically charged. The charged amber should pick tiny pieces of paper like a magnet.
Solvent test: Please be careful here and don’t ruin your jewelry. You can apply a drop of acetone (fingernail polish remover) to your amber. If it becomes sticky or tacky, it is not true amber. Wash your jewelry as soon as you complete the test.
Bouyancy test: Amber will float in salt water. Make a solution of 2 ½ teaspoons of salt per cup of water and dissolve. True amber will float.
Hot needle test: Heat a needle in a flame until it is red hot. Touch the tip of the needle to a hidden place on the amber. True amber will noe melt quicky and will put off a grey smoke.
The necklace photographed above can be found in my eBay store.
Visit My eBay Store: MidCentury Jewelry