mardi 27 mai 2014

Amber Colors: from White to Black

It is probably the most popular, recognizable and one of the most common color, cognac (or whisky) amber comes mainly in treated form (initially transparent yellow), but can be also natural. Slow heating deepens the color, makes it more shimmering and bright than natural. Cognac amber is often autoclaved (treated with high pressure saturated steam at about 120°C/248°F) which results in inner cracking. The steam penetrates the amber’s structure and alter its color. That’s how decorative bubbles (or so-called “scales”) and shiny discs are created. Heating is a very cold technique that has been in use for hundreds of years to enhance amber’s natural color while autoclaving has been developed in the second half of the 20th century. There are several shades of cognac amber, varying from light honey to dark cognac, almost cherry shade.
Cognac amber
Sparkling honey (treated)
Cognac amber
Honey color


Naturally transparent yellow amber (about 10% of all mined amber) is often found with natural impurities and inclusions in it and pure fully translucent chunks are rare and highly valued. Small transparent yellow chunks (0.5 – 1 inch long) can be found along the shoes of the Baltic Sea in Kaliningrad (Russia), Lithuania, Latvia, Denmark. Often yellow amber is specially treated and purified with high pressure. Inclusions are normally found and also very visible in this kind of amber.
Translucent yellow amber
Translucent yellow amber (treated)


Black amber (about 15%) is basically any color of amber high in content of natural inclusions such as debris, plants, soil. It is attractive because it has natural rough look. It is sought after by people who want to get Baltic amber for its healing properties. Black amber naturally mixed with butterscotch is particularly valuable as it is not that rustic and rough, but still very organic natural appearance.
Black amber
Black amber

White, or Royal White

White amber is especially rare (about 1-2%). It is also called “bony” or “royal white” for its unique texture. White amber is praised for the decorative swirls in butterscotch, grey, green, honey or blue hues which create one-of-a kind decorative effects. White amber is never treated as it is praised for its natural beauty.
Royal white amber
Royal White amber


Butterscotch, or matt color is fairly common – about 60-70% of all amber. It is distinguished by its cloudy look. It is non-transparent or semi-transparent. Butterscotch amber is often heated at high humidity to reach so-called “antique” color: yolk, or caramel. Butterscotch color ages beautifully due to natural oxidization and turns darker and darker reaching the color of yolk.
Butterscotch amber. Cloudy variety.
Butterscotch amber

Antique, or Yolk

Antique color is obtained by slow heating of butterscotch amber for several days or even weeks. Antique color can also be natural, but depending on climate the process may take between several years or decades. It is almost impossible to say whether this or that antique amber was treated or aged naturally. Antique color vary from light caramel to brick color. It is sometimes called “red”.
Antique amber
Antique and natural butterscotch colors
Antique, or red amber
Antique color (yolk variety)


Naturally green amber is very rare (about 1-2%). It looks more like olive oil color and isn’t bright. Green amber is fully translucent and often has natural inclusions and fossil insects. Heating and autoclaving yellow amber allows to make more intense green color with sparkles and discs. The cabochons carved out of this amber are covered on the back with special dark green veneer. This treatment allows to create an interesting variation of treated amber.
green amber necklace
Natural green amber
Treated green amber


Cherry color in its natural form is quite rare (2-3%). This color is archieved by heating translucent and non-translucent varieties of amber. Cherry amber beads can be polished or non-polished. The last variety allows to give amber very natural look.

mardi 26 novembre 2013

Cherry Amber: Video

Before we post an article on Cherry Amber, its varieties, shades, treatment, etc, here is a short video of some of the pieces from our collection:

jeudi 10 octobre 2013

samedi 5 octobre 2013

How To Buy Baltic Amber Jewelry Online

The Baltic Amber jewelry is getting more and more diverse and sophisticated.  Every year one can find more variety in designs from very simple pieces to the most sophisticated combined with unusual materials like wood or antique silver and other stones or when huge nuggets are mounted in naturally looking settings. Thus, a number of stores which sell amber jewelry is multiplying every year. From the most astonishing Amberif, the largest jewelry fair devoted exclusively to the Baltic Amber jewelry which takes place in Poland every year, to small online stores that resell mass made jewelry through eBay. How to choose a quality piece out of hundreds of Internet stores which often offer the best prices?

You can find gorgeous amber jewelry through online stores. But make your shopping experience safe. There are several rules which a responsible and reliable vendor would follow:

1.  Transparent Return Policy clearly indicated at the web site. Always make sure that you can return your piece of jewelry if you are not satisfied with your purchase. If the vendor offers only exchange or store credit, or even worse: no returns - be aware! The responsible vendor is interested not only in making profits, but in quality customer service (good example, Tiffany & Co return policy - 30 days). You will have time to test your piece of Baltic amber jewelry, wear it for a few days, see if it is as beautiful in reality as it is pictured online and decide whether you are happy with it.

2. Both Dimensions and Weight accurately added to the description. Sometimes vendors just indicate the length, and it may be enough for some customers. But if you want to know the width of the beads? Or even thickness which is often unclear from the photo. All these parameters must be dully described. The more accurate the dimensions, the more reliable (and hard working) the vendor. Weight is a crucial thing. Amber is sold by weight, so it is fair to let your customers know what it is worth, isn't it? Knowing the weight also helps better visualize the piece of jewelry (of course, only if you are familiar with amber). A tricky photographer is able to take such a shot that the tiniest piece of jewelry would look like a significant one.

3. Several images demonstrating all the details of the Baltic Amber jewelry. Are you satisfied with buying something having only its frontal view? Maybe yes, if it is a book or a skin lotion. But how about something which is intended for wearing? Or to be added to your collection of curiosities like amber with fossils? The more sophisticated the piece, the more pictures should be taken. Three at least, taken from different points of view. Ideally one image showing how it looks like on skin: a bracelet put on a wrist or a ring on a finger. All this will help you decide whether this piece would look great on you.

4. Natural or not? Nowadays the market is full of so-called "reconstructed, or "modified" amber, when an amber bead is made out of several small pieces of amber glued together. Natural Baltic Amber means that the piece of jewelry or a bead is carved out of one piece of amber. Natural Baltic Amber is always mined in Kaliningrad's area (Russia) and is never collected from the Baltic Sea shores as it is sometimes romantically described by some vendors. This detail is very important as the prices for natural and for pressed (reconstructed, modified) amber vary 2-5 times. For example, this vendor on eBay puts "modified" in the description without giving the details of whether it is made out of amber powder (lower quality) or out of small pieces of amber (higher quality).

5. Baltic Amber Balls, or Round Beads are in very high demand now. To give you a better idea about what is going on with prices, for instance, the price for natural Baltic Amber ball beads 10-15 mm in diameter are $13-15 per gram for whole sellers and only if you know the market very well and know where to get them at such a price. Smaller beads cost a bit less and larger ones more. In case you come across ideally round balls described as "natural not pressed not reconstructed amber" at much lower price, most likely the vendor lies to you. Or this amber was stollen or used. Price must be always your guide for the quality and genuineness. Large workshops that make such beads normally don't care to sell retail through the Internet with a very little mark-up.

Baltic Amber ball beads reconstructed from several pieces of amber.
In this case it is very hard to tell the difference.
6.  Do you need a certificate of authenticity? The truth about the certificates is that it is a common misleading factor that a purchase of genuine Baltic Amber must be accompanied by a certificate of authenticity. Does a certificate guarantee that the amber is real? No. In theory, every company can provide a certificate of authenticity saying common phrases like "we guarantee that your piece of jewelry is made out of 100% natural Baltic Amber, etc". Every company can provide their own form of certificate and add it to the invoice to ensure their customers that they made the right decision. The point is that there is no superior authority that can verify their products and the certificates alike. Especially in the USA. In Europe, particularly in Poland and Lithuania, where there is a high concentration of amber workshops, the system is different. In a nutshell, the certificate of authenticity matters only if you are a wholesale vendor purchasing large quantities of amber goods from Lithuania and Poland.

7.  Raw or Treated Baltic Amber? If you need amber necklace or bracelet for healing purposes, make sure that you buy raw amber as it has the highest concentration of the succinic acid. It can be polished or not.  Polishing does not alter the healing properties of amber. All sparkling amber, with bubbles and discs as well as super translucent varieties and faceted beads are treated with heat, pressure, humidity, etc. The treatment makes the beads more appealing and pretty, but it decreases the amount of the succidic acid. Treated amber is still natural and, of course, real. It is a common confusion that real amber must be only raw. The reply is no. Baltic Amber has been treated in different ways for hundreds of years. As many other natural stones, amber often reveals its full beauty only after treatment.

Natural Baltic Amber set treated with pressure and heat
8. From Europe or from the USA? There are many companies selling retail from Poland, Lithuania and also quite a few from the USA and also in Canada and Australia. Their prices vary, but generally speaking nowadays there is not much price difference between prices for Baltic Amber in the USA and in Eastern Europe (20% maximum). If you shop on eBay, you probably come across numerous "deals" of  bulky expensive looking "amber" jewelry set in silver plated settings. This "jewelry" is manufactured in China and they certainly use pressed amber of the lowest quality. Look at this item: a "real amber" bracelet in "sterling silver" for $5.99 shipped for free from China. 

vendredi 6 septembre 2013

Baltic Amber Drops, or Nodules

Among the variety of amber one can come across so-called amber drops (5%), or amber nodules. They are the overdose of resins that broke away from the streams, which used to flow through icicles and trunk. 

lundi 2 septembre 2013

For the love of amber necklaces

I came across this great picture which is a perfect illustration of how light-weight amber jewelry is!