Hi, The huge difference in amber pricing usually has to do with
whether it is Baltic amber or Copal amber (there are other ambers as
well, though I don't think they are as commmonly used in
Baltic is very, very old (hundreds of thousands to a million or
two...), and found around the Baltic region. Vikings used to prize
this amber. The authentic stuff is very expensive.
Copal is "only" very old (hundreds of thousands of years); a lot
comes out of Columbia South America. It is not so expensive.
The big problems come in when people get greedy and dishonest.
Copal will be sold as Baltic, or scraps of amber will be melted and
re-cast, sometimes with bugs (or other remains) included within. Go
It is possible to spend lots and lots of time learning how to
authenticate ambers, because amber has been prized (and therefore
mimcked or faked) for a very long time.
As an aside, I used to be rather put-off by amber, until I bought
some Copal amber to carve. It smells wonderful!!