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How to polish amber?

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holdinghistory

Hello, 

 

New to this forum. I recently have developed an interest in fossil inclusions in amber. After buying a number of prepared pieces, I decided I would like to try my hand at polishing some of my own. I found myself the owner of several hundred pieces of Dominican amber with inclusions. I have been doing a wet sand, and feel like I am close, but the pieces just don't seem to be getting a nice clear transparent finish. Any tips for finishing? I attached a few photos, the piece with the winged ants is from my collection and was polished by someone else, just for contrast with the one I was working on. I have a few pieces that look like they may have rarer inclusions (one looks like an earwig), so I am hoping to perfect the technique on a few more common pieces before I try my better ones. 

 

Thank you!

Nathan

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holdinghistory

IMG_7463.JPG

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FossilDudeCO

I am curious about this as well actually. Back in September I acquired a few pieces with inclusions.

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Jesuslover340

I heard something about having to use ash? But it was from the owner of the local rock shop, so unsure.

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ynot

What grit are You using?

The finer the grit the better surface You will get when You buff it out.

For something as soft as amber I would start with 220 and work it down to 50,000 grit before polishing.

 

The commercial pieces are either tumbled or cabbed on a machine.

 

Good luck and looking forward to seeing pictures.

 

Tony

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snolly50

Wet sand (very, very fine), then a Dremel with a small cloth wheel mounted. The cloth wheel is loaded with a polishing compound. I purchased mine years ago from Europe, but cannot remember the trade name. It was a stiff, clay-like, light tan material that was in a bar form. This approach worked very well. I am sorry i cannot recall the actual polishing product. When this topic previously came arose on the Forum, I searched the Internet but met with no result in identifying the product.    

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Jesuslover340
27 minutes ago, snolly50 said:

Wet sand (very, very fine), then a Dremel with a small cloth wheel mounted. The cloth wheel is loaded with a polishing compound. I purchased mine years ago from Europe, but cannot remember the trade name. It was a stiff, clay-like, light tan material that was in a bar form. This approach worked very well. I am sorry i cannot recall the actual polishing product. When this topic previously came arose on the Forum, I searched the Internet but met with no result in identifying the product.    

Speaking of which, Snolly, I never realized until last week that the piece of amber you sent me contained an insect inclusion!!! I may have to look into obtaining more after this exciting discovery; the students I lecture to love it :)

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snolly50
26 minutes ago, Jesuslover340 said:

Speaking of which, Snolly, I never realized until last week that the piece of amber you sent me contained an insect inclusion!!! I may have to look into obtaining more after this exciting discovery; the students I lecture to love it :)

Hi Skyelar, your post just goes to prove the old adage: "If you get anything from snolly, you better check it for bugs."

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Jesuslover340
2 minutes ago, snolly50 said:

Hi Skyelar, your post just goes to prove the old adage: "If you get anything from snolly, you better check it for bugs."

I shouldn't have laughed so hard at that :P But I never knew! Wish I had the equipment to take a decent photo of it to have it identified!

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FossilDudeCO
10 hours ago, snolly50 said:

Hi Skyelar, your post just goes to prove the old adage: "If you get anything from snolly, you better check it for bugs."

 

Perhaps if we send Snolly amber he will return them with more bugs!!!

Lol I had to laugh at this as well!!

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holdinghistory

Thanks for the reply! I will look for some cloth wheels for my dremel tool. I know one guy I talked to uses car polish, could I just get a regular wheel and soak it in polish?  

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Yvie
On 03/03/2017 at 4:27 AM, snolly50 said:

Wet sand (very, very fine), then a Dremel with a small cloth wheel mounted. The cloth wheel is loaded with a polishing compound. I purchased mine years ago from Europe, but cannot remember the trade name. It was a stiff, clay-like, light tan material that was in a bar form. This approach worked very well. I am sorry i cannot recall the actual polishing product. When this topic previously came arose on the Forum, I searched the Internet but met with no result in identifying the product.    

 

 

On 03/03/2017 at 4:27 AM, snolly50 said:

Wet sand (very, very fine), then a Dremel with a small cloth wheel mounted. The cloth wheel is loaded with a polishing compound. I purchased mine years ago from Europe, but cannot remember the trade name. It was a stiff, clay-like, light tan material that was in a bar form. This approach worked very well. I am sorry i cannot recall the actual polishing product. When this topic previously came arose on the Forum, I searched the Internet but met with no result in identifying the product.    

You may mean Jewelers Rouge that was the final polish product I used when I made gold and silver jewellery.You can get various brands red and tan coloured.

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doushantuo

*public service announcement*
• not only heat and UV radiation, but also visible light can cause rapid degradation
of amber;
• oxidation of terpenoid components, that starts from the surface, is the major cause
of degradation, since oxygen is involved in several processes, such as
depolymerisation, breakdown of terminal unsaturated carbon-carbon bonds and
formation of communic acid from communol;
• amber is sensitive to both high and low relative humidity;
• acidic and alkaline pH conditions can cause chemical changes and surface
deterioration in amber objects.

 

 

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Yvie

Avoid perfumes,body lotions and hairspray if making into jewellery

53 minutes ago, doushantuo said:

*public service announcement*
• not only heat and UV radiation, but also visible light can cause rapid degradation
of amber;
• oxidation of terpenoid components, that starts from the surface, is the major cause
of degradation, since oxygen is involved in several processes, such as
depolymerisation, breakdown of terminal unsaturated carbon-carbon bonds and
formation of communic acid from communol;
• amber is sensitive to both high and low relative humidity;
• acidic and alkaline pH conditions can cause chemical changes and surface
deterioration in amber objects.

 

 

 

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ynot
2 hours ago, Yvie said:

Jewelers Rouge that was the final polish product I

Jeweler's rouge is a metal polish. I would not use it on a non metal item, but they make all sorts of polish compounds and I suspect there is one just for amber.

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