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Identifying Amber

Various methods exist for identifying true amber. Although laboratory testing is the only way of determinig the authenticity of an amber specimen with absolute certainty, there are also several quick ways to gauge whether the piece in question is true amber or a cheap imitation:

When two pieces of amber are rubbed against each other, amber will give off a smell similar to pine resin.
The same resinous smell occurs when an amber specimen is touched with a red-hot needle. It will also give off a sooty flame.
Dissolve 2 teaspoons of table salt in a glass of water and immerse the sample in it. Amber should float on the surface, plastics will sink.
Rub the sample vigorously on a soft cloth. Amber will become heavily charged with static electricity and will easily pick up small pieces of paper.
Place the specimen under a short-wave ultra violet light. Amber will fluoresce a pale shade of blue.

In some cases copal is described as true amber. Although copal is tree resin which has not yet fully fossilized to amber, it is not as ancient as amber and possesses different characteristics. One way of determining the difference is by using acetone. Copal will turn sticky after coming in contact with acetone, amber will remain unaffected.


 


 



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