How Do You Recognize True Amber Jewelry to Avoid Buying a Fake?
Amber jewelry is so beautiful, it’s little wonder that people would attempt to copy it. Ever since it was discovered, fake Baltic amber has popped up everywhere. If you are looking to buy amber jewelry, you should learn how to spot a fake so you’ll always get an authentic purchase. On top of that, fakes are often priced the same as real amber and who wants to pay too much for something that isn’t real?
There are many look-alikes when it comes to amber. Copal, for example, comes from a younger form of tree resin. It looks strikingly similar to amber, though copal melts at a lower temperature and has a sweet smell. Glass is another one that is often passed off as genuine amber jewelry. However, glass is more solid and you can’t scratch it with metal. It reflects light and if you drop it, it will break into pieces.
In beaded jewelry, beware of phenolic resin. It has the same shape and color of amber, making it difficult to discern the difference. Burning phenolic resin will clue you in as amber emits a pine tree-like scent and phenolic resin does not. Celluloid is also a tough one at first glance though burning it emits a plastic smell which gives it away. Incidentally, casein, which is made from milk, is another often imitator of amber that smells like burnt plastic when burned.
Naturally, you don’t want to buy a fake, but you may not be comfortable with igniting suspected amber fakes under a flame. There are different tests you can do that involve no burning to help you determine if you’ve bought the real deal or if your amber jewelry is fake. Take a look below and see how you can easily find out if you’ve got genuine amber or a phony piece.
One of the simplest tests you can do to determine if your amber is real is to rub it on the palm of your hand. This one is great if you’re out browsing at shops because you need nothing else. When you rub it on your hands, it creates friction which, for real amber, lets off that piney aroma. If you don’t smell pine tree when rubbing the amber in your hands, pass on it as it’s a fake.
Salt Water Test
Another simple and effective way to find out if your amber jewelry is authentic is to mix 2 cups of warm water with ¼-cup of salt in a bowl. Stir this up until the salt dissolves completely. Then, put your amber into the bowl and see if it floats. If it does, then you’ve got genuine amber jewelry. This is a good test to do if you’ve already received your amber and are at home.
When you touch real amber jewelry, it feels lightweight and has a slight warmth. Because it was underground for millions of years and the way it is composed, it will feel differently compared to imposters. For example, if you have glass posing as amber, you may notice it to be harder, feel cooler to the touch, and have a heavier weight in your hand.
Since real amber is on the soft side, you can simply squeeze the piece in question to see how it feels. Fakes will either be hard or feel like plastic. Again, note that if it feels cool too, it’s likely not true Baltic amber you’re holding.
Do you have a UV lamp? If so, you can spot a fake quickly. When you hold genuine amber under a UV light, it will appear blue or green in hue. Fakes will show up as different colors under this form of light and make it easy for you to see the difference.
You can also enlist the help of an amber expert to determine if you have a fake on your hands. The hot needle test is something that is best done by someone who knows what they’re doing. They take a hot needle to the amber and if it starts to crack, it’s amber. Fakes like plastic will melt. Since this test takes some precision so as not to ruin the amber, it’s best left to the pros.
A heating test done by a professional can help find if the amber is pure or contains other materials. With natural amber, there are small bubbles. Heating the amber makes the bubbles evaporate and turns the amber transparent. However, it can’t be done on small amber beads for they will melt away.
How to Avoid Buying Fake Amber Jewelry
Now that you know what to look for when you buy amber jewelry, a good rule of thumb is to only buy it from trusted sources. Any genuine seller of amber jewelry will have the certifications to back up the authenticity of the amber. If you’ve already bought amber from somewhere or received it as a gift, you can perform the simple tests listed above to see if it’s real.
No one wants to pay too much and receive a fake piece of amber jewelry. At Holiday Gift Shops, you’ll find genuine amber jewelry with certifications from the International Amber Association that come with your purchase so you’ll always be getting true amber.