Amber is one of the oldest and most popular materials used in jewelry, moreover, it is the first decorative mineral used on a mass scale in history. It was known in antiquity, being the object of trade for the majority of Europeans living then. The transport of contemporary amber went through a large part of Europe, the so-called "amber trail".
Amber is an element of Polish culture, as evidenced by even the largest mineral trade fair in the world, held every year in Gdansk, in addition, Poland is the world's largest producer of amber jewelery, and the products are popular all over the world. The popularity of resin that has been preserved for centuries, as well as the prestige and quality of amber jewelery, means that there is still a lot of demand for it. Unfortunately, the opportunity to trade in artificial amber is also popular. So how to distinguish real mineral from imitation?
Real, natural amber has special physical and chemical properties. Some of them can be easily checked in home conditions, and some require specialized tests.
The most important features of amber:
- amber is light, but heavier than the weight of water, amber floats in salt water. Therefore, the home method of verification may be a brine technique, which consists of salting the water and throwing amber into it - it will float.
- the so-called. musk breakthrough - chipped amber is associated with a clam shell or has a stepped structure.
- another method of verification is the burning of amber. The ignited amber burns, emitting a characteristic resinous smell. An interesting fact is that one of the names of the mineral - Bernstein "burning stone" comes from this property. Baltic amber should smell nice, pleasant resinous scent, kapals have an intense, aromatic scent, and imitations smell like plastics. The resinous scent is also felt when a hot needle is applied to a real succinite. In addition, small, pulling threads will appear on the needle.
- amber has electrifying properties, so when rubbing it with a suitable material, eg wool, we stimulate these properties and amber can attract small objects. It is interesting that these electrical properties are reflected in the scientific nomenclature, because the electron from Greek means amber.
- Baltic amber on the Mohs hardness scale is located between plaster and calcite. On the scratched amber surface, a white crack and fine crumbs form, while plastics after scratching form spirally coiling chips.
- Baltic amber is warm and light to the touch, imitation is usually heavier and cold.
- Amber reacts poorly with solvents (eg acetone) while the imitations quickly dull and the surface becomes sticky.
Thus, there are possibilities to verify the naturalness of amber in home conditions. However, they are not always 100% effective or safe, arson lighting can damage the natural beauty of jewelry, and they are not parameterized methods.
One of the most effective and used in the world research methods of succinite and other resins is infrared absorption spectroscopy. In Poland, infrared spectra are obtained by two methods - transmission and reflection.
In the Amber Laboratory operating at the Amber Museum in Krakow, the reflection method is used in the spectrometer with the ATR attachment. It is a fast, effective and most importantly non-invasive method of identifying Baltic amber as a raw material and products made of it. Infrared spectrometry includes the spectrum of electromagnetic radiation in the range between the visible region and the microwave area, i.e. between 14300 and 200 cm-1 (0.7-50 μm). Infrared absorption spectroscopy uses the phenomenon of selective absorption of infrared radiation by various substances. Absorption takes place when the frequency of infrared radiation vibrations is equal to the frequency of natural vibrations of their atoms or their coordination groups.
The effect of the analysis is a certain diagnosis of the authenticity of amber. San also provides the basis for issuing the certificate of authenticity. Therefore, we invite you to purchase our certified, and above all natural, pros. In addition, our museum offers the opportunity to test the authenticity of products and conduct expert opinions for individuals, companies, offices and institutions. We invite you to cooperation!