Updated: Apr 25, 2022
Unfortunately, these days Natural Amber is extremely hard to find, having in mind its depleting resources and the price of this genuine, nature's created resin.
Here we are going to share some tips, how you can check* if the amber that you have is natural.
Visual amber test
The first and probably the easiest way to test if amber is genuine is by carefully looking at it. Since amber has formed naturally in nature, it‘s beads have some imperfections. Most common of them are small air bubbles, tiny cracks or even pieces of plants. In addition, it is very rare occasion when the beads are in perfect round shape. Oh, and you should also know that when touching amber, it is always warm, and that is not the case with the fake ones.
Salt water test
This effective test is mostly suitable for loose beads or amber pieces without any metal components. In order to do this test you will need seven teaspoons of salt and a cup of water. Pour the salt into the water and stir it until salt is fully melted. Then put your amber gemstone into the water and hope it floats. The real stone stays on the surface and the majority of the fake ones drown easily.
This test is for determining if the stone you have is amber or copal. Real amber has electrostatic properties, so if charged sufficiently, it can pick up any paper pieces or dust. If you want to charge your amber you need to wrap it up in a cloth and then rub it for approximately 20-60seconds. After doing that, hold the stone near the strand of hair.
“You are lucky if the hair is attracted towards the stone, because it proves you are holding genuine amber. If nothing is happening, most likely you have a piece of copal in your hand.”
Hot needle test
Notice: You shouldn‘t do this test if you are afraid of leaving a small mark on your stone, which can be caused by burning. Anyway, if you decide to do the test you will need to heat the needle and then push it against the stone. If the needle went in only slightly or some cracks were left it means that it is most likely real amber. The genuine amber also leaves a smell of old punged tree. In other case, the needle goes in very easily and the smell is either plastic or if it is copal - fresh pine.
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Notice: this test is even more likely to permanently damage amber stone. It is usually preferred when not expensive amber is being tested. By doing this test you can separate genuine amber from colored glass. Glass beads can‘t be scratched with metal and the real amber is a stone that is soft enough to get scratched. So if you are not able to scratch your amber beads then it is probably fake.
This test is also when you want to determine what stone you are holding in your hand – amber or copal. It might be a bit more difficult since you need to know the difference between smell of these two stones. Scent of true Baltic amber tends to be stronger than compared with copal. And in case you are dealing with other type of fake you should smell plastic smell once a bead is heated.
One more thing!
Be aware, that some of these tests might harm your gemstone with little marks or even completely ruin it. So be careful and attentive by choosing a test and by doing it.
Keep in mind, that the price can also show whether the piece you are purchasing is genuine, or fake. If amber jewelry is priced way much lower than most competitors, this might be a good indication that something may be wrong.
In other case, it is your right to ask for a certificate from a seller proving the goods he is selling are made from genuine amber. Trustworthy sellers will have no issues providing you this kind of proof.
*Please have in mind, that the most reliable answer is the one you can get at the institute of gemology.