Amber Bead Types

A description of the characteristics related to the various amber bead types.

There are five basic Amber bead types. They are 1) beads cut from one nugget, 2) beads formed under pressure from one nugget, 3) beads formed under pressure from two or more nuggets, granules or powder 4) beads made by tumbling/polishing raw amber, 5) beads made by bonding amber with synthetics bonding agents.

Note that this page contains a text explanation of the bead types. For pictures of each type, go to Types Of Amber Beads

Beads Cut From One Nugget Of Amber

Amber beads can be made from one stone (nugget). That single piece of amber can be cut from a large stone, or chosen from individual stones that are graded according to the shape and quality.

Because Baltic Amber is characteristically flat, beads cut from single nuggets are generally limited to 12 mm. Larger sizes are available, but because of the type amber that must be used and the waste factor involved, they are extremely expensive. Because of the problems and costs associated with making cut  beads larger than 12 mm, most jewelry makers avoid making cut beads above 12 mm. See Beads 14mm.amber bead cutting machine

Beads cut from one nugget of amber are normally cut and drilled by hand with the aid of specialized machines.

The finished beads show the imperfections and impurities carried by the amber resin. Amber being brittle and filled with flaws, cut beads are very likely to crack and chip.

For more details, see Beads Cut From One Stone

Beads formed according to this process where no heat or pressure is used are classified by the International Amber Association, Gdansk Poland as Natural Baltic amber (Succinite). See Official Classification Of Amber

Beads Formed From One Nugget Of Amber.

They are a bead made from a pure, single, Baltic Amber stone.

This is the most common process used in making amber beads from a single stone.

Baltic Amber is characteristically flawed. See Characteristics of Amber.

But it is a fusil and will, under heat and pressure, flow to fill a desired shape. In the process, bubbles, cracks and separated layers are fused together. No glues, additives, colorants or anything else are used in the process.

They are drilled by hand using a special amber bead drill. amber bead drill machine

The process strengthens the bead making it less likely to chip or crack the way cut beads do.

Even under an IRS analysis of one of these stones, the physical characteristics of a stone made in this fashion cannot be distinguished from those of one that is cut. It takes an amber expert to distinguish between one of these stones and a cut stone. And in many cases such an expert cannot always see the difference.

The distinguishing feature between the stones and those that are cut is the way the amber layers are seen on the surface of the bead. And as stated above, it takes an experienced amberman to make a distinction. And he cannot always do it. And the average person simply cannot.

According to the International Amber Association Gdansk, Poland these are classified as Modified Baltic amber (Succinite). See Official Classification Of Amber

For more information, see Beads Formed From One Stone

Beads Formed From Two Or More Nuggets Of Amber

When subjected to heat and pressure, separate pieces of amber will combine.

Anywhere from two nuggets to granules and powder are combined. In this case, the beads are made without any glues, colorants or any other additives.

These are probably the largest sellers of all.

Autoclaves are often used to clarify the amber. The resulting products of beautiful. They are low-cost, attractive, and very popular.

They can be made in large sizes and many colors.  See Beads 14 mm.

They make low-cost, affordable, beautiful decorative jewelry, bead bracelets, and prayer beads.amber bead bracelet

These in the products that you see in tourist areas, hotel gift shops, amber outlets, and online.

The old amber color two stone bead bracelet that you see at the right is extremely popular.  See more examples at Reconstructed Amber

Such amber makes up cabochons for the silver and amber jewelry business.

According to the International Amber Association, Gdansk Poland, these are classified as Reconstructed (pressed) Baltic Amber (Succinite). See Official Classification Of Amber

Tumbled Or Polished

Some stones are tumbled or Polished to make the small of beads that are necessary for the arts and craft and baby teething necklace industries. They are processed Natural Baltic Amber. It is processed amber. It is not Raw Amber.
Amber Bead Polishing Machine

Clear amber is polished to make craft beads.  An amber polisher, shown to the right, does the polishing. After being so processed, some are heated to change color.

You can see craft and baby teething necklace beads at Baby Teething Necklace Beads


amber tumbling machine In other cases, amber with a great number of inclusions is tumbled polished using a machine like the one you see on the right to make the large bulky and very popular Natural Amber necklaces that you see here.  Amber Bead Necklace



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