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Amber Preferences

Discussion in 'Colored Gemstones' started by leggs, Jul 19, 2005.

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  1. leggs
    Shiny_Rock

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    by leggs » Jul 19, 2005
    I recently saw a very pretty dark reddish amber ring. It looked preciously delicious but they bought the ring at a gem show. Now I started looking and need advise to what I am looking for. Where does that color come from and is real dark tone common. I don''t want to spend a lot of money on something rare.Advise please.
     
    


    


  2. valeria101
    Super_Ideal_Rock

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    by valeria101 » Jul 19, 2005
    Dark redish brownmust have been copal rezin - a younger kind of amber. And really, there isn't a way to spend allot on it unless you might want several pounds to burn instead of using air freshner ! It is nice, but cheap.

    Amber (the older kind) has that reddish color too, but not as common.

    Aside the pieces with important fosills, the only kind of amber that might cost a good deal are the large pieces - measured in pounds, not grams (let alone carats). The larger, the rarer. Otherwise, well, you might hear about some 'rare' color (blue, imperial yellow, pink, violet, green and who knows what else might have been invented ! [​IMG]) or locality, but that should not be of much concern. Collectors are few and far between and the famous kinds are just famous among a rather limited community.

    On the other hand, allot of 'amber' sold in inexpensive jewelry is not natural and some that is a processed (melted and re-cast). The very clean transparent pieces are probably reprocesse. And some with particularly nice inclusions looking like golden flakes, are heated or melted to obtain that effect. I am not quite sure if the reprocessed is allot cheaper or not - much of the price of amber jewelry is not about the stones anyway, but the labor and style. So... shopping for a nice piece should be fun.

    For copal I'd even do Ebay and look into rock shops. Hardly anyone bothers to fake it. Some large and valuable pieces could be not quite right, but the jewelry-sized ones should be ok. And then, it wouldn't cost allot even if you don't like the piece after all.

    IMO, the nicest part about amber is that it can be modeled so readily to fit the design you want - somejewelry contains small amber sculptures (carved pieces) that flow with the metal work. Quite a treat ! [​IMG]

    I like amber allot, and aside the geology and paleontology of different sources, this is about all I know about the jewelry material. Hope it helps.[​IMG]


    [​IMG][​IMG] Yellow and red Ciapas copal...

    I can't believe THIS SHOP ! (in a good way). I don't think anyone can tell if a piece of those is 'for real' but fakes are not that common and would hardly stand scrutiny at higher prices. I'll just assume all is well and this place has amassed a good slice of what one might ever want about amber. Just for the sake of browsing, although it can hardly stay this way [​IMG]
     
  3. leggs
    Shiny_Rock

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    by leggs » Jul 19, 2005
    Ana
    Yes yes yes.you got itThankyou!!!.exactly what I was looking for.Now those red fire coloured stones I can afford and big one''s too.
    I dream of having some real nice jewlery like some I see here but reality is having nice inexpensive pieces.Oh well we all can''t afford fine jewels and I am happy with simplicity. I will try to find a chiapas stone next time I go to Ebay.
     
  4. loupe
    Rough_Rock

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    by loupe » Jul 19, 2005
    Leggs,

    Amber is not copal and copal is not amber. Copal is a natural resin from tropical trees of Africa, expecially Tanzania and Sierra Leone. And there is copal from New Zealand. Large copal beads have been used as trade beads for a long time. The material is opaque and mistaken for amber and sometimes called that erroneously.

    Amber is fossilized natural resin from an extinct variety of pine tree (Pinus succinifera) submerged under the sea some 60,000,000 years ago. The best quality is transparent, although some cultures prefer the opaque variety. There are two main types: 1) sea amber (succinite), pieces of which are washed up along the Baltic Sea near Kalinigrad and also along the eastern shores of England and the Netherlands and , 2) pit amber, mined from Oligocene deposits in Burma, Sicily, Romania, Danzig and Mexico. Amber boiled in certain oils will turn from opaque to clear and change color. If you are interested in finding out more, pick up a copy of "The Magic of Amber" by Rosa Hunger.

    Plastic is also a resin and is sometimes hard to distinguish from real amber. The best separation between the two is their specific gravity. Ina a saturated salt solution, drop a piece of amber in the solution and it will float, plastic sinks. Once the amber is set or strung, of course, you can''t do this. the only other definitive test is destructive and not for the faint of heart. A hot needle or hot point stuck into a piece of amber will result in the smell of pine burning and the plastic stinks like burning plastic. Don''t do this in front of a dealer!

    Regards,
     
    


    


  5. Richard M.
    Brilliant_Rock
    Trade

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    by Richard M. » Jul 19, 2005
    Hi,

    This Site provides a lot of helpful information about amber and items sold as amber like copal, kauri gum, etc.

    It says red amber is called Burmite after its type location in Burma and it occurs in many deposits such as the Baltic and Dominican Republic. I don''t claim to know a lot about this fascinating topic despite the fact I used to cut a great deal of Dominican amber.

    I do know a lot of cheap kauri gum on the American gem show circuit is being fraudulently sold as amber. The most maddening jewelry repair job of my life involved a piece of kauri gum "amber" set in Sterling. My polishing wheel slipped and I accidentally melted a groove in the "amber" -- something that would not have happened with real amber. It took many hours to learn how to slowly hand-polish the piece to bring it back to original condition.

    Richard M.
     
  6. valeria101
    Super_Ideal_Rock

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    by valeria101 » Jul 19, 2005
    For some reason, I was usng the word 'copal' for a different best: younger fosilized rezin from... wherever it may come from, this, following thenomenclature of Ken B. Anderson & John C. Crelling ('Amber, Resinites, and Fossil Resins' - the book). Sure enough, other authors mix and match those two words... so I din't quite know whom to follow.

    From now on, I'll know better. Thanks !
     
  7. loupe
    Rough_Rock

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    by loupe » Jul 20, 2005
    Richard,

    Amber can be any color from the same site. Burmese amber may be a true red but different colors are prized in different areas and the "other" is traded away. Leggs is (I think)talking about material that some Baltic nations consider the best quality, a dark reddish brown. An example I came across recently highlights the ability for one culture to adopt a type of amber from ancient trade routes as their own - Tibetan amber. The rich opaque yellow that you see in Tibetan silver jewelry are old trade beads set in rings. That is why there is a little silver post sticking up in the middle. The amber is an old trade piece. It''s not Tibetan, it probably travelled from eastern Europe many years ago and was prized because of its color. That the Tibetan silversmiths chose to set the amber pieces singly also speaks to its perceived value. Of course, there is newer jewelry with newer pieces and sometimes plastic incorporated into the jewelry. I guess what I am trying to say is calling anything by a place name isn''t accurate unless you dug it up yourself. The mineralogical names apply when a learned minerologist is writing about the distinctive features in a comparative study to his colleagues who should know the difference between say simetite and gedanite. Nomenclature can get goofy and is certainly confusing. IMO, color and transparency are better descriptions for any gem.

    Regards,
     
  8. Richard M.
    Brilliant_Rock
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    by Richard M. » Jul 20, 2005
    I think that''s essentially what I said. A "type" location is the location that defines the type or color, like "Siberian amethyst." The name is given to amethyst of the same color no matter where it''s found, and ditto red amber. I mentioned red amber specifically because that was what the original question was about. Read the site I referenced all the way to the discussion of "Colour" at the bottom. Amber colors are further discussed Here

    Regards,

    Richard M.
     
  9. leggs
    Shiny_Rock

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    by leggs » Jul 20, 2005
    Thanks Ana Richard and Karen
    And I thought this was a simple question, goes to show us how much more we have to learn and look forward to.
    You experts are so appreciated with sharing your knowledge.
    THANKS!!!
     
  10. loupe
    Rough_Rock

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    by loupe » Jul 20, 2005
    So Richard, what do you call the "Baltic" amber that is opaque yellow? Latvian amber? Or the Burmese amber that is yellow and thrown inthe trash heap? Tibetan amber?
     
    


    


  11. Richard M.
    Brilliant_Rock
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    by Richard M. » Jul 20, 2005
    I haven''t the slightest idea. Maybe you can educate us. I''ve already disclaimed any personal expertise about amber and was pointing out what someone else had written about it. If you have a disagreement, additions or corrections, take it up with them. Meanwhile, have a really great evening.
    [​IMG]
     
  12. valeria101
    Super_Ideal_Rock

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    by valeria101 » Jul 21, 2005
    This is the first time I hear about type locations for amber colors or anything related. Instead, there might be some truth that amber is collected and appreciated because of it''s origin just because many of those in collecting it are interested in the natural history of the thing rather than jewelry use or value as gem material. Of course, if all factors of value coincide, all for the better. But who on Earth would wear a huge chunk of amber with a dead lizard or huge bugs and weeds inside ? Even though these are the most valuable ambar pieces, jewelry usage has no meaning for them. And large specimesn are usually beyond jewelry usage when size makes them outstanding... So, perhaps this material is not as much ''gem'' as something else... Just a thought.
    Amber beads are collected even if fake - history and provenance appear to be is more important there as well.

    Sure it is beautiful and extremely wearable and what not: perhaps the low intrinsic value of the material makes any other value factors relatively more important in higher price echelons. I would mention agate as a similar case of jewelry material - not expensive, but collectable for other reasons and collectable by origin (literaly) rather than type.

    Oh well, comming from me, this is more ''literature review'' than speaking from personal experience. I am writing as much to clarify my intuition as anything. [​IMG]
     
  13. loupe
    Rough_Rock

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    by loupe » Jul 21, 2005
    Valeria,

    A valid point. Collectable specimens and jewelry are two different things. As to price, amber may be inexpensive in your neck of the woods but my friends at Amber Way have warned their regular customers that the prices in Poland and Russia, where they do most of their buying, have skyrocketed. Demand is higher and those that have been fortunate to stockpile this beautiful gem material are very happy.

    If anyone out there is fortunate enough to have good, genuine amber jewelry, hang on to it.

    As to place names, they mean nothing unless you dug it up yourself. It is particularly confusing when we start jabbering about Ceylon this, Burmese that. Ask Dick Hughes abouth this. He has some very strong opinions about the name game and how it is used to mislead and out right lie to consumers. IMO, this applies to ALL gems. Unless I have a reputable lab origin report for an important stone, I ignore overstated pedigree. It is what it is, regardless of origin. Place names are used to justify overpriced goods and to romance the stone.
     
  14. Richard M.
    Brilliant_Rock
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    by Richard M. » Jul 21, 2005
    Let me take another run at this in the interest of clarity.

    Words and meanings are elusive so let''s review exactly what was said in my post. And please DO ask Richard Hughes -- I think his views on gem names are almost identical to mine. In fact I once started to write an article on that subject with almost his exact point of view until research revealed his very excellent piece.

    In my post I wrote: "This Site [link]provides a lot of helpful information about amber and items sold as amber like copal, kauri gum, etc. It says red amber is called Burmite after its type location in Burma and it occurs in many deposits such as the Baltic and Dominican Republic. I don''t claim to know a lot about this fascinating topic despite the fact I used to cut a great deal of Dominican amber."

    Did you note I said "it [the site] says," etc.? I used the term "type location" simply as a means of explaining the name originated with cherry red amber found in Burma. If you continued reading at the site you''d note it also said:

    "Amber comes in a variety of colours and can be indicative of its geographic origins. Cherry red amber is the distinctive colour of Burmite, amber originating from Burma. Dark brown and opaque is typical of retinite from Borneo. Unfortunately this convenient and distinctive factor is not consistent, and many deposits produce amber which vary widely in their colour. Baltic and Dominican Republic amber being two primary examples. Baltic amber has such a wide spectrum of colour that a unique language has grown up to describe and identify different types of amber. Click here to review some of the terms used.” [You’ll note use of the statement “SOME of the terms used” in reference to Baltic amber, in light of your later comments on the thread.]

    As the politicians say, I don’t have a dog in this fight. I was just reporting information found elsewhere. People can read it and arrive at their own conclusions.

    Richard M.
     
  15. loupe
    Rough_Rock

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    by loupe » Jul 21, 2005
     
    


    


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