Ahh amber! Majesty or tragedy and how to tell the difference
So I have it in my hand and it is beautiful. The play of light in the beads captures the warmth of honey... I love it. I want it. But is it real? It could be an expensive mistake...
Amber. Humble tree resin, elevated to jewel status, can command serious money but the market is flooded with fakes and it can be easy to buy badly. In this blog I'll explore some of what makes amber so special and share a great tip to make sure you only get the good stuff!
Amber has been valued as a jewel since Neolithic times and since antiquity it has been used in a variety of ways, from talismans, coffers and bottles, to the more familiar jewellery and beads we see today.
Amber is known for its special properties - it's warm to the touch, incredibly light and has its own power... The Greek word for amber is 'elektron' - the root of our word 'electricity'. When rubbed with a cloth, amber will generate static and attract particles and fibres.
For those with a belief in the healing power of crystals, amber is believed to alleviate negativity and draw pain from the body. In ancient times it was used specifically as a remedy for throat and stomach problems. Today, you can buy amber teething necklaces for your little ones, check out Lil Teethers for more on this http://lilteethers.com/baltic-amber-teething-necklaces-basics/
Ultimately though, today, I'm just looking for a pretty necklace but I need to know whether this one is worth buying or not! Now if you're buying new, then going to a reputable jewellery house will ensure you have no worries. Monartti of London, for example, are true experts and create exceptional amber jewels with a contemporary design statement https://www.monartti.com/en/content/4-about-us, and House of Amber use their decades of experience as a grounding for their inspirational and striking designs https://www.houseofamber.com/eng/house-of-amber but if you're buying vintage then you need to know how to be certain your amber is genuine.
The answer comes with the aid of a handy UV torch...
Under UV, real amber will fluoresce - giving the beads a milky tone. Copal, or 'young amber' which is often used to fake real amber, will not fluoresce. As you can see from the image - my necklace - oh yes, it will be mine now! - does fluoresce, however the clasp doesn't. This means the clasp is a polymer mimicking the amber beads.
Job done. Money on the table and the necklace is mine. I'm confident it's real and I can enjoy wearing it knowing I've not been duped. So, next time you're looking for something special, make sure you have a UV torch in your pocket.
Don't miss next week's blog where we'll be giving you an easy hack with 'How to take the stress out of cleaning silver'