dontom

Is this Amber?

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I bought this a few years back and I was wondering if it was amber, copal or plastic.  It was labeled as Baltic Amber and it has a spider inclusion in it.  Are there any tests I can do to it that are pretty reliable and will not ruin it.  I put it in salt water and it sunk to the bottom.  Not sure if the mixture was correct.  I have a saltwater fish tank and I used water from it for the test because it is the same mixture as ocean water.  Thanks for any help.

 

 

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Have you had a look at THIS WEBSITE

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8 minutes ago, Fossildude19 said:

Have you had a look at THIS WEBSITE

Thanks for the link.  I'm going to try the rubbing test but it doesn't look good considering it already sunk in saltwater.

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In my opinion it looks real. It has what looks like cracks that usually aren't mimic!!! ;)

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In my experience, it's difficult to test the authenticity unless you have a copal to compare it against.

 

First thing I did was the saltwater test. I don't recall exactly how much salt to use, but I know my amber and copal were at different levels in the water.

 

Second thing was the hot needle test. I heated up a needle and poked it on a non-conspicuous spot on both. For copal, the needle went in like a hot knife. For amber, the needle couldn't pierce well.

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Thanks for all the feedback.  I thought for sure I had a imitation but after getting the info and advice here it looks like it is real amber.  I did the rub test and it was like a magnet to hair strands.  I also redid the float test with the correct mixture of salt and water and it easily floated.

Thanks again Tom

 

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Opps!!! I forgot to add, it looks like real resin so it could be copal also. But it definitely isn't plastic!!!!

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Indeed, I would lean more towards copal too. Copal is more prone to cracking due to its younger age, and if it is baltic amber as labeled, I'd expect it to float or have neutral buoyancy in seawater, since baltic amber is collected from being washed up from the sea.

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4 hours ago, sdsnl said:

Indeed, I would lean more towards copal too. Copal is more prone to cracking due to its younger age, and if it is baltic amber as labeled, I'd expect it to float or have neutral buoyancy in seawater, since baltic amber is collected from being washed up from the sea.

 

It sank straight to the bottom using the water from my fish tank which is a exact match for seawater.  It easily floated and was very buoyant when I used the mix that they recommended online with the higher salt content.   What made me think it was amber is that it was electrostatic when rubbed.  That's weird that it sinks in seawater but is electrostatic. 

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Copal vs amber

 

Place a small drop of acetone on a polished face

Let evaporate

touch spot with a tissue

If copal - sticky

If amber - no stickiness

Amber is impervious to acetone, more modern resin will soften.

 

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1 hour ago, dontom said:

 

It sank straight to the bottom using the water from my fish tank which is a exact match for seawater.  It easily floated and was very buoyant when I used the mix that they recommended online with the higher salt content.   What made me think it was amber is that it was electrostatic when rubbed.  That's weird that it sinks in seawater but is electrostatic. 

It is hard to tell for sure given the limited info. It seems more likely to be copal to me, but could also be amber. Buoyancy does not have a correlation with age, not that I know of anyway. What I meant is just that Baltic amber are supposed to be more buoyant because they are collected at the beach. Specimens that are more dense are not so likely to be carried by the waves to the beach, so I'd guess your label of Baltic amber is wrong. But it could still be amber from another location. But there seems to be a lot of cracking in your photos so it seems more likely copal.

 

Amber and copal are the same thing in different stages of preservation. Copal is younger and thus softer and more susceptible to heat and organic solvents. But there are many factors which would affect a fossil's preservation, so it is not always easy to say whether something is one and not another. Some prefer to not make a distinction between the two. Yours could be somewhere in the middle so it passes some tests and not others.

 

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sdsnl makes an excellent point by stressing that amber/copal are stages of the same material, analogous to aging in humans. The process flows - resin to copal to amber; assuming the passage of time and ensuing chemical changes. But where is the actual dividing line/moment between the stages? As resin "ages" volatile oils are released and the molecules of the resin combine chemically to produce a "network" of combined molecules via the process of polymerization. This polymerization results in the stable, final stage of amber. 

 

It's wonderful material. Enjoy your piece.

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In addition to the above l also use a UV (black) light, copal and amber glows.

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57 minutes ago, moriniboy said:

In addition to the above l also use a UV (black) light, copal and amber glows.

It certainly should glow - it's made out of sunshine.

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