Amber | Gemopedia

Amber is the ancient fossilized resin of trees that grew in forests millions of years ago. Over the eons, chemical and physical changes occurred, fossilizing the resin to produce what we know today as amber. Research indicates that amber ranges from about two million to 360 million years in age, although most gem quality amber is between 10 million and 50 million years old. Hardened resin that is significantly younger than amber, is known as copal. Although the age boundary that differentiates amber from copal is still debated, copal is considered to be less than 10 million years old, with a large proportion being significantly younger.
Alternate Names
Resinite, Ambrite
Colors
Light Yellow To Dark Brown, Orange, Red, White; Occasionally Greenish, Bluish Due To Fluorescence

Amber Classification

Common Name

Amber

Species

NA

Variety

Colors

Light Yellow To Dark Brown, Orange, Red, White; Occasionally Greenish, Bluish Due To Fluorescence

Alternate Names

Resinite, Ambrite

Gemstone Groups

Key Separations

Specific gravity is a key indicator, one which may be tested by placing the specimen in a saturated salt solution having a specific gravity of approximately 1.12-1.13, in which amber should float. Plastic imitations, in contrast, will typically be denser and thus sink in a salt solution. Other tests for amber (versus plastic) include a hot needle test (checking for distinctive odor), sectility (scraping with a knife to see if it chips or crumbles instead of curling).

Comments

Amber is essentially a fossilized plant resin, often with fascinating inclusions. The presence of, amounts, and kinds of trapped material, such as insects or air bubbles, can cause the specific gravity to vary. Copal is an immature(young) version of the same material.

Amber Optical Properties

Transparency

Transparent - Opaque

Refractive Index

1.54
Tolerance:(+0.005/-).001)

Birefringence

0

Optic Character

NA

Optic Sign

NA

Polariscope Reaction

Singly Refractive (SR) With ADR

Fluorescence

SWUV: Inert to moderate yellowish green to orange yellow, white to bluish white to blue
LWUV: Inert to strong yellowish green to orange yellow, white to bluish white to blue

CCF Reaction

Pleochroism

None

Dispersion

Strength: none

Comments

Amber Chemistry & Crystallography

Chemical Name

succinic acid

Chemical Formula

C12H2OO fossilized plant resins

Synthesis

Crystal System

NA

Classification

Organic

Nature

Natural

Crystallinity

Non-Crystalline

Comments

Amber Characteristic Physical Properties

Hardness

2.5

Streak

White

Specific Gravity

1-1.1 Range:0.02/-0.08 Typical:1.08

Toughness

Poor

Inclusions

Amber will show a "Sun spangle" effect due to the stone being heated in oil. Stones might also show gas bubbles and flow lines. Sometimes included with insects or other organic and inorganic materials. Stones that have been created by compressing smaller pieces of amber will sometimes show the boundary layers of the original material. Plastic imitations with inserted insects will have a boundary layer surrounding insect.

Luster

Waxy

Stability

Poor

Fracture

Conchoidal

Cleavage

None

Comments

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