The definition of natural amber and how to test for authenticity.
Natural Amber is a term that is internationally recognized to define genuine, pure, amber products made from Baltic Amber which products to not contain colorants, adhesives, glues or any other additives.
Natural Amber is amber only. It is pure. It is genuine Baltic Amber.
Natural Amber can be definitively recognized when tested using the IRS technique. (More specifically using the Fourier Transform Infrared (FT-IR) Spectroscopy with the standard KBr disc method as used at the Chemical Faculty of the Gdansk University of Technology, better known as the Amber Laboratory, under agreement with The International Amber Association, Gdansk Poland..
The spectral curve that results will be similar all across the spectrum of the various classifications of Natural Amber.
That means all Natural Amber, regardless of how it is processed – hand carving, pressing from one stone or pressing from more than one stone – will show the same test results.
Now let us explain.
Natural Amber is processed from the raw state into various products such as beads. And the method which this natural raw amber is processed varies.
In some cases raw amber is processed into beads from single nuggets by either carving or shaping, or tumbling.
In other cases more than one nugget are combined into a larger piece.
In order to ensure honesty and promote Polish amber sales due to this honesty and guarantee of quality, the International Amber Association, Gdansk Poland, has further classified Natural Amber by defining terms that describe how the raw Baltic Amber stones are processed.
Each of these sub classifications made by the International Amber Association are pure Natural Amber.
Please carefully read the definitions at Classification of Amber Gemstones
After careful reading you should now know that cherry colored amber, carved from a single stone/nugget, is classified as modified amber. Reason: Cherry does not exist in nature. It is made by heating amber. So to make cherry you heat amber and that moves its classification to modified.
It is important to note that an IRS examination shows the functional groups and yields a spectral curve that will show that the product is Natural Amber. And regardless of how the amber is processed, these functional groups do not change during the thermal treatment or pressing.
That means that in many cases, once a product is determined to be Natural Amber, one must use visual examination to determine how it was processed.
But that is not always determinative. The International Amber Association staff, who are the world unequaled, leading authorities on Baltic Amber, will tell you that the state of technology of amber manufacturing is so advanced, and advancing so rapidly, that they cannot always give an opinion. No other organization in the world has either a staff with equal experience or a testing facility that compares. If they cannot tell, we doubt that anyone can.
And that includes Ambermen who make carved beads and modified beads every day. They cannot always tell if a bead was made by form shaping or carving – even if the bead was made in their own workshop!
Natural Amber is an internationally recognized amber classification that includes the sub classifications Natural Baltic Amber (succinite), Modified Baltic Amber (succinite) and Reconstructed Baltic Amber (succinite).
For the most part, the real difference for the buyer between Natural Baltic Amber (succinite), Modified Baltic Amber (succinite) and Reconstructed Baltic Amber (succinite) is how it looks. And that is the result of the shape of the Amber layers after processing. There is no change in the chemical or other properties of Amber that is processed in any one of these three ways.
It is possible to determine if a product is Natural Amber but it is not always possible for the buyer to determine how it was processed. That means that you cannot always determine whether it is carved from one stone, pressed from one stone, or pressed from more than one stone.
Natural Baltic Amber is Natural Amber
Modified Baltic Amber is Natural Amber
Pressed (Reconstructed) Baltic Amber is Natural Amber.
Bonded Amber, which is an Amber product that is made by the addition of glues or other additives, is not classified as Natural Amber. Additionally, it is generally accepted that amber products made from powders or many small stones are not natural amber even though they are Baltic Amber (succinite).
And if you have any questions or need further information, contact us.