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The difference between heated and not heated natural amber

Updated: Jan 4

Many people that like natural Baltic amber know, that not heated in an autoclave amber is in bright matt yellow color. And that it is highly valued.

But at this point the knowledge ends…

So what does it really mean heated or not heated amber? What’s the difference between them? Is the matt yellow color the only way to detect whether it was heated or not?

We have been hearing these and many other questions about not heated amber from our clients for a while now and it’s finally the time to answer them publicly!

First of all, how the amber’s heating is made?

Usually, it happens in an autoclave, where amber is being treated with high pressure and high temperature for a couple of hours. This way, it is being made more mature, as if it has spent way many more years forming than it already did.

The second way to heat amber is in an oven. This is more of a color-making process. When being heated in this way, its surface covers with a darker shade, like a bread with a crust. This way we can change amber’s color from lemon to cognac, from cognac to cherry, etc.

But why amber has to be heated in an autoclave?

Since amber was forming by layer of tree’s resin dripping on another layer, and many times like this, it is made from many layers. Of which, not all are connected well one to another.

That could have happened due to the fact that when one layer formed, it took some time for another to cover it. And in the meantime, some dust, some leaves, even some insects covered the first one. So the surface was not perfectly clean and the next layer could not attach to the first one firmly.

Because of this amber’s creation process, it is necessary to put it into an autoclave, so the layers could attach one to another better.

After this process amber becomes stronger and its color usually becomes clearer. E.g. if we heat matt yellow amber, it might become completely clear cognac or lemon color (if there is no dirt inside of it).

Here we naturally came to one more reason why amber is usually heated. To make its color more beautiful, more clear. Over 90% of raw amber material is in dirty, so called soap color, which is not popular or valued in amber jewelry admirers community.

Sometimes we, as manufacturers, come across a raw amber material piece that we see has some of its layers are widely open and detached, so we put it into an autoclave, in order for the layers to come closer and firmer one to another. After this process we might have a piece for a big amber pendant.

However, not always these layers attach well one to another even after being heated in an autoclave and the amber piece has to be cut into several smaller ones.

However, it is important to understand heated and not heated amber’s qualities, so here are a couple of differences between heated and not heated amber pieces:

By following this small chart you might find the answers to your further questions. Depending on the purpose of your amber, you may choose it to be heated or not.

For holistic treatments it is believed that not heated amber might have higher power. But if you want royal cherry amber necklace for a Valentine’s day, the only amber that will be that is heated amber.

Not heated amber’s value is a bit higher, having in mind it is very rare to find it in such a proper condition and a beautiful color.

Yet no one can deny that heated amber is also highly valued in gemstones and

semi-precious stones community. As long as it is natural, without any artificial materials added, etc. (read more about this in our blog).

We hope this article was helpful when gaining more knowledge regarding not heated and heated amber jewelry. Contact us freely, if you have any more questions. We'll do our best to answer them!

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