Amber pressing

January 29, 2020 /  

Reconstructed amber is more and more common and arouses more and more interest due to the relatively low price. What is it and how is it created? Does it retain the properties of natural amber?

The so-called amber pressing is a process aimed at fusing small pieces of amber (sometimes even amber powder) into larger pieces suitable for jewelry. It mainly uses high pressure and temperature. Due to the nature of this process, reconstructed amber can no longer be called natural, because only amber that has been created without human intervention and has been subjected to only such operations as grinding or polishing is considered natural amber. 

Originally larger amber lumps were obtained by sticking small pieces together by heating the matching surfaces. From 1881, both elevated temperature and increased pressure were used for this process, and then the amber created with the help of this method began to be called "ambroid"[1]. For this process, well-cleaned, free of weathered and powdered natural amber is used. At elevated temperature and high pressure, fine fractions are combined into one larger form. The amber created in this process is called reconstructed or pressed amber[2].

So how to distinguish between natural and reconstructed amber? It turns out that it is not so easy. The amber subjected to the pressing process in the infrared spectrometry method gives a spectrum such as natural amber. Identification of amber by the FTIR method gives us information only about functional groups that remain unchanged.  

Microscopic observations are helpful. Air bubbles in natural amber should have a rounded shape, while in reconstructed amber they will be flattened, arranged chaotic, irregular in shape and branched. On the surface of the merged pieces of amber, there will be scratches surrounding the lighter parts of completely unchanged amber[3]

Often, the most valued and desirable is the natural, it is no different in the case of Baltic amber. Reconstructed amber is considered to be less noble, which is also cheaper, although at first glance it is practically indistinguishable from a natural nugget. Each product using succinite modified in this way should be marked with a special comment informing the buyer about its character. This obligation lies with the jewelry makers. It is also worth remembering that the wording 'real' is not synonymous with 'natural' because amber is pressed with real Baltic amber (it gives the same spectrum during testing and retains its properties), whereas due to the ironing process it cannot be said that it is still natural. Therefore, do not be afraid to ask sellers questions if we have any doubts about the goods that interest us.

 


Sources:

  1. Kosmowska-Ceranowicz, B., 2013. Amber and its imitations. Warsaw: Sadyba Publishing House.
  2. Kosmowska-Ceranowicz, B., 2012. Amber in Poland and in the world. first edition edited by Warsaw: University of Warsaw Publishing House.
  3. Ganzelewski, M., 2003. Amber - substitute materials and imitations. Polish Jeweler, Issue 4 (21), pp. 44-50.

Author: Dominika Skrepnicka

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