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Baltic Amber Inclusions, It's History, Types & Tests - Love Amber x 2023

By Marie Clarke
Baltic Amber Inclusions, It's History, Types & Tests - Love Amber x 2023

What Is Baltic Amber?

Baltic Amber is the hardened resin of ancient pine trees. This organic substance is most well-known for the incredible inclusions of insects that can be found within it. People have been making amber jewellery for over 10,000 years, which could make it the first gem material ever used. How amazing is that?! The fascination with amber continues today.

Baltic Amber History and Legends.

People have attributed mystical and healing properties to amber since Neolithic times. The Greeks knew that when amber is rubbed with wool, it creates sparks, so they dubbed the substance “electrum.” Relatively soft, amber has been carved into beads and jewellery since the Bronze Age, and it can be polished to a gleaming super polished finish. Many people have believed that amber’s warm colour and the way the material holds heat signify its healing powers; today people all over the world use amber necklaces, since the succinic acid in amber is believed to remove the pain of teething (Although they cannot be sold for this for safety reasons nor make health claims).

Amber Link to Sunshine

Amber’s bright, sunshine colours also enhanced this connection. The Ancient Greek historian Nicias believed amber to be congealed droplets of sweat formed on the Earth as The Sun set beneath the waves. Other ancient writers depicted these “droplets” of fossilised sap as the tears of gods or heroes on various quests.

Animals and Amber Symbolism

Amber symbolism also encompasses the animal world. The Vikings carved amber pieces into animal shapes believed to contain the strengths of the animals. In Ancient Greek and Roman times, women wore amber fish, frog, and rabbit figurines to ensure fertility. The early Chinese believed the souls of tigers became amber upon their release from this plane. 

Since amber frequently holds once living things, the classical worshippers of the Mother Goddess believed amber possessed the essence of life itself. Akasha, this animating principle or “fifth element,” bound together the other elements of earth, air, fire, and water.

Amber Inclusions and Valuations

It is rare that genuine amber is faceted. The highest values go to those pieces with clearly visible insect inclusions light colours and clarity. Since the Jurassic Park movie, the most popular inclusions are mosquitos. Inclusions of plant material, while of great interest to scientists, add little to the value of jewellery. (These inclusions are often too small to be recognised easily). Very large amber pieces are extremely rare. Good quality material is seldom used for anything but jewellery. Buyer beware though. A lot of inclusions are artificially formed and insects planted by rogue traders inside the amber to make it look genuine. Always test this for authenticity.

Fake amber is an industry all to itself, and has been for centuries. The material itself is often faked and so are animal and plant “inclusions” found in it. Plastic resin fakes are easy. Also, real amber may be heat treated to clarify it and produce “sun spangles” or small circular included planes that catch the light and glitter. Insects can be set in resin within hollowed out real amber pieces. The buyer should be wary of small or large insects that look too perfect (and offered at such a bargain price!). Real animal inclusions often are contorted or bent out of shape from their struggles in trying to free themselves from the sticky amber resin. Real fossils also do not retain their original colourful skins or shells. 

COPAL is NOT TRUE FOSSIL AMBER but a much younger form of tree resin.  There is a difference (age alone most obviously) and it can be identified.  Furthermore, copal contains inclusions of modern living life-forms whereas true fossil amber contains inclusions mostly of extinct prehistoric life.

Genuine amber is a resin so it is easy to fake in appearance.  The "amber" may be plastic with fake artificially placed organisms inside as inclusions or, the amber may be real but the inclusions are faked - a problem in today's amber market.  This is true with any rare inclusions (flowers, lizards, scorpions, bird feathers, mammal hair, reptilian skin, and blood filled ticks).  Inclusions of any vertebrates should be highly suspect and needs to be authenticated. 

Amber Information from The Gem Society.Org

Name Amber
Colours Yellow, brown, whitish yellow, reddish, cream colour, orange shades. Rarely blue, greenish, violetish.
Heat Sensitivity Very
Formula Approximately C10H16O+ H2S. A mixture of hydrocarbons plus resins, succinic acid, and oils.
Etymology From the Arabic anbar.
Occurrence In sedimentary deposits and on shorelines, due to waves and currents bringing material up from offshore beds.
Fracture Conchoidal
Hardness 2-2.5
Cleavage None
Wearability Good
Crystallography Amorphous
Refractive Index 1.540-1.545, usually 1.540
Birefringence None
Dispersion None
Luminescence Yellow in SW (Texas); bluish white or greenish in LW. Baltic amber may fluoresce grayish blue in SW. Inert in X-Rays. Sicilian amber is noted for its fluorescence.
Absorption Spectrum Not diagnostic
Pleochroism None
Luminescence Present Yes
Luminescence Type Fluorescent, UV-Long, UV-Short
Lustre Greasy
Specific Gravity 1.05 to 1.096, usually 1.08.
Typical Treatments Heat Treatment
Transparency Transparent to opaque


How Is Amber Used?

Amber has a wide range of transparency. The transparent material is used almost exclusively for jewellery. Amber is often tumble polished and used for beads, pendants, earrings, and rings. Faceted amber pieces are rare. Amber is also burned as incense and used as an ingredient in perfumes. Amber oil should always be used with a carrier and never applied directly to skin.

What is is made from and where is it found?

Amber is an amorphous (non-crystalline) mixture of organic compounds, including hydrocarbons, resins, succinic acid, and oils. Most of this substance comes from the preserved resin of the pine species Pinus succinifera. However, other ancient tree species have also produced the material. Amber has been preserved for at least 30 million years. Amber is classed into various types. The sea type is found undersea. The pit variety is dug up from the ground, especially from the Baltic region. Other types are clear, massive, fancy, cloudy, frothy, fatty, and bone, in reference to their appearance. Its hard to believe that such beautiful jewellery can be created from those not so pretty lumps of resin! 

Where can it be found:

  • The Baltic Sea Region, including Poland, Germany, and Russia: most of the world’s amber comes from a region formerly known as East Prussia and now known as the Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian enclave.
  • Sicily: material may be opalescent blue or green.
  • United Kingdom: rarely found
  • Norway; Denmark; Romania
  • Myanmar: brownish yellow and brown varieties: also colourless, pale yellow, and orange.
  • Lebanon: scarce, from very old deposits.
  • Dominican Republic: mined from sedimentary rocks. Yellow, orange, and red colours. This material often contains well-preserved insects and sometimes displays a strong bluish tone in reflected light.
  • Chiapas, Southern Mexico: produces golden yellow material.
  • Cedar Lake, Manitoba, Canada.
  • Point Barrow, Alaska.

All of our natural amber is from the Baltic sea region and beaded by our team of traditional Baltic beaders. You can follow our other amber testing information if you wish to learn more about this matter. We have noticed the latest rise in 'inclusions' appearing in the marketplace. If it is sold as a home decoration please be careful.

Thank you for visiting. Please take a look around my store before you leave.

If you need information on Supercharging your Crystals or Recharging your Baltic amber beads then you are in the right place. if you have any questions please don't hesitate to ask. 

Thank you for Reading

Marie x

Love Amber x


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