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holdinghistory

To polish, or not to polish?

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holdinghistory

I just got this neat piece of Burmese amber in the mail. Rough piece with a sea lily star in the attached rock. It is a very large piece (66 grams), and looks neat rough as is. But I can't help wondering what it would look like with the amber portion polished, especially if there are any insects inside. Any thoughts on whether to polish it or leave it as is?

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Darktooth

Maybe polish a "window" on a portion of it to see what may be inside. There was an Amber expert who gave a talk to my local club. This is what he would do to determine whether or not a piece was worth the time to polish or not.

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Wrangellian

Tough call. Ideally you would have someone with enough experience with this material to know what the chances of there being an insect in there, and how the stuff behaves when you try to polish a window on it as Darktooth says (ie. not going to crumble). I guess it's worth a try if you think you can do so without affecting the crinoid ossicle.

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holdinghistory

Usually polishing a window is the way to go, but this one has so many different angles that the window option will only show a small part. The rock on the one side and a few other factors means I can't backlight it with a flashlight to try and see inside. So it is going to be a complete mystery! 

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caldigger

Nathan, so if you can't get it backlit, will you really be able to see what it offers inside if you do go ahead and polish It?

Pretty much every piece of amber we see kind of depends on that back lighting to view the inclusions.

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holdinghistory

Part of the reason I can't get it backlit is because it seems to have some stress cracks (probably from excavation), and the amber is a little dark in areas, so I can't light it from the side. If I polish it, I think it will be more clear (hopefully), and I could also potentially remove some host rock that doesn't have fossil material in it, allowing for more back lighting. Even if there is nothing in it, wondering if it would look better rough or polished? I can see it being neat either way.

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Ptychodus04

I personally think that amber is one of the few materials that is more attractive polished than raw (personal opinion) so I’m in the polish camp regardless of inclusions.

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daves64

The 2nd & 3rd pics show what looks to be a lot of heavy fracturing. I deal with that a lot hand polishing Indonesian amber. Chances are, if you try to remove some of the outer rock, it could come apart. Although, I've had some that had more fracturing than that looks to have & still have the piece stay intact with filing, sanding & polishing. With the fractures, you just can't tell what it will do. Carefully polishing some of the angles by hand might be the best route. It would open a few small windows & allow you to get some light inside. Fortunately, amber is soft enough that wet/dry sandpaper works well on it by hand, but keep wetting it to rinse it & keep it cool. I usually sand to a 14k equivalent grit, then buff with a sheep skin chamois. I haven't actually used polish on any I've done yet. I'm with @Ptychodus04 on polished amber being more attractive, even though I've had a few pieces that were fantastic raw.

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holdinghistory

I decided to start polishing it. It actually appears to be quite stable so far, I think it will come out nice insects or no. 

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