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Amber...A Window Looking Into The Past

Amber is sometimes referred to as a window...a window looking into the past because many species, some extinct, have been identified thanks to amber and its ability to preserve.   It is said that amber has healing qualities because it contains the "essence of life".  Life that has been dated back millions of years (Ref. 1).

A few weeks ago I received a box full of beads that belonged to grandmother. 

I was like...jackpot!!!  These babies are amber!  Then Hobo says that they are fake.  I said no way baby!  These are the real deal.  Your grandmother was old and so by definition these must be old and therefore real amber gems! 

So how does one tell if these are real or not?
Fear not because I know how to tell.

Amber is buoyant in salt water.
If I were by the Baltic sea amber would be just floating along and I would grab them all up!  I am sure it is not that easy but you get the picture.

First, one must have salt water that is saturated.  Meaning take some salt and dissolve it in water until the until the salt can no longer dissolve and you have a bunch of salt just sitting there at the bottom of your glass.  I did 1 part salt to two parts water.

Then I drop my pieces in the water.  I have grandma's amber and purchased faux amber from our trusty Bead Shop on Magazine Street.
Yellow bead is faux amber and dark bead is grandma's bead.
The faux amber sunk straight to the bottom of the cup but looky there...grandma's amber did not sink at all!!! 
If you would like to learn more about amber go to this website.  A wealth of information there.

And that is how the cookie crumbles people!
So carry some salt packets, water bottle, and a cup with you whenever you go gem hunting.  Then you can take out your supplies and test out that amber you are buying at the next gem show.

You could always just do the lick test.
Amber has no taste and if you taste chemicals then you know it is fake but I do not want to go licking dusty beads.  Blech!

The question is what to do with these beads.  I guess for now I will just look at them and say, " preeettty" until something comes to mind.

Have a great Thursday!


  1. Very interesting and congrats on the win-fall!

  2. Thanks for sharing such good info. You've probably kept someone from buying fakes.

  3. Let's hope so but maybe it's best just to buy from a reputable dealer. I would like to get my hands on some amber with a bug in it. I think that website had one with a dragon fly in it which made me think of you!


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