Complete analysis of amber types with pictures and videos.
The major suppliers to the world markets are the Baltic Countries and the Dominican Republic. There are significant differences between the ambers from each of the regions. This page discusses those differences and more.
Special Note About Buying Amber
As you read through this page you will see that there are many types of amber and there are many opportunities for you to be deceived into buying low quality, overpriced, and counterfeit amber.
Unfortunately, based on feedback from visitors to this Chamber site, it happens many times.
We offer help in avoiding traps. If you go to this page, Polish Products Information Center , and give us information about what you want, or what information you need, we have a full time representative who will look at your needs and help you get what you need or get you the information that you need.
Do take the time to look at this service at the Polish Products Information Center
The types of amber
Natural Baltic Amber – Amber as it comes from nature. It is generally uneven in color. And it is almost always uneven in shape. It comes from the Baltic Region.
Natural Baltic amber is used in high quality fashion jewelry and art creations. It is asymmetrical, not always uniformly colored, sometimes has imperfections and looks like something that would have been shaped by nature and not man.
Here is a picture of an amber jewelry selection to show you how a natural product looks when set. No two pieces are ever the same.
Click On All Images To See A Larger Version
To make each piece, a raw stone was cut, ground and polished. A setting was then made for that individual stone.
You can see a large collection of hand crafted natural products here at Hand Crafted Amber And Silver Jewelry
Small pieces of Natural Baltic Amber are also tumble polished. These are normally called chips and are not uniformly shaped. They can be drilled.
The rejects, unusable raw stones, grindings and small pieces that result from the cutting, grinding and polishing are used to make Genuine Amber and Ambroid.
Genuine Amber – This is a term that includes Natural Baltic Amber and Pressed Amber. Both are 100% amber with no additives.
Pressed Amber is made from small pieces and rejects that are melted together under high pressure. It is generally even in color. Smaller pieces of high quality pressed amber are difficult to distinguish from Natural Baltic Amber but for the fact that it is almost always uniform in shape.
Beads and the settings in most jewelry are pressed. That is simply because pressing gives manufacturers uniform pieces that can be used in production. And it also holds down the cost of the end product.
Here is a picture of an amber jewelry collection made with pressed amber.
Beads are almost always pressed.
Here is a picture of three necklaces. The center one uses pressed and the other two natural hand shaped “beads” Click on the picture to see more detail. (See more information about beads below and to see typical uses for beads, look at Amber Beads
Ambroid is a product made up of small pieces of amber embedded in plastic. The plastic is colored so that most people do not know that it is plastic. When people buy low cost jewelry, they often get ambroid and do not know it. It contains chips so is passed off as amber, but it is plastic with chips and nothing more.
Copal is a young amber that comes from the Dominican Republic and its neighbors. It is the product of a different species of trees than Baltic Amber. Its value rests on it containing more insect inclusions than Baltic Amber. But it behaves differently than the Baltic Amber. Copal is younger than Baltic amber and has different characteristics because it is the product of different trees growing millions of years apart.
Imitation Amber is made from plastics, colored glass and treated modern tree resins.Notes About Amber
Amber is treated to give it different effects and colors.
Heating causes fractures that add character to an otherwise clear piece.
Some amber is painted and heated to make it show a different color. For instance the “back” of a piece of genuine amber is often painted green and heated. When put in a setting, the back is left exposed so the light shines through and makes the amber look green.
Amber that has too many bubbles in it is treated in hot oil or a vacuum chamber to remove the bubbles.
Treated amber is genuine amber but not natural Baltic amber.
Most people do not know what they are buying. And many jewelers do not know what they are selling. They just do not have the experience or background to be able to distinguish between the various types.
The price of amber depends on the quality of what you are buying.
You get what you pay for.
Natural Baltic Amber commands a price. It is a rare gem and is priced as a rare gem. People who mine amber know its value and do not sell it at low prices. You simply do not get it cheap
If you get cheap amber, it is likely ambroid or low quality pressed amber.
Copal is often passed off as Baltic Amber and sold in copied designs of Polish amber artists. This jewelry is often priced as much as half the price of genuine product from Poland.
If you get a necklace with uniform beads, it probably either pressed amber or ambroid.
High quality pressed amber can be beautiful and makes beautiful necklaces and rosaries.
The word beads can be misleading. Some people use it to mean uniformly shaped and uniformly colored pieces. Others include in the word beads pieces that are actually chips.
Pressed beads give you uniformity, they can be drilled and they make products affordable to most people.
Un pressed “beads” made from the raw stones are not uniform.
The pictures of the necklaces above show the difference in the two categories.
Information about beads is at Amber Beads
How Do You Know What You Are Getting?
Natural Baltic Amber is iridescent under UV light.
If the settings are uniform, they can be genuine. But they can also be copal, ambroid or a fake.
If you buy directly from a factory representative that works with a factory that sells natural products you are likely to be buying what they tell you they are selling you.
Buy some raw stones, natural rings, natural necklaces, pressed bracelets, pressed necklaces and ambroid necklaces. Study the differences and learn your product.
Get a black light and test for iridescence.
For complete information about amber baby teething necklaces, necklaces for health and beauty and all aspects of buying and selling amber, go to Natural Baltic Amber.
We do hope that this About Amber and types of amber page has helped.