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Blue or green amber from Dominican Republic


#1

First, happy new year to everybody!

I just saw a French TV documentary on stones from the DR filmed in
the country showing the mining operations for larimar and amber,
which they said is more colorful than elsewhere. The younger Copal
is easily found but is in a class apart from the colored amber.
Larimar, of course, is already well known and already overpriced in
my opinion. The amber isn’t cheap either. I’m fascinated by the
colors and would like to use it in my jewelry. Has anybody seen or
used this amber?

Barbara
South of France


#2

We had a presentation on polishing Dominican Republic amber at our
rock club but I don’t remember any blue or green offered. It was
probably out of our price range. The fellow demonstrating the
technique was doing his final polish with a compound which I think
was called a “rubbing compound” used on cars.

Rose Alene McArthur


#3

Dominican Republic amber, which they said is more colorful than
elsewhere. Has anybody seen or used this amber?

Barbara, I used to live in Santo Domingo and was always out looking
at the amber in some of the shops there. The color was not on the
surface but in an internal layer and most of what I saw back then
(1988) would have a colored, transparent flash to it as you turned
it. It was about three times as expensive as the common amber and I
saw a lot of red and blue.

Donna in VA


#4

My booth last year at the Tucson show was right next to a German
family living in D.R. and selling amber for a living. There is such a
thing as blue amber but it is very hard to come by where it’s really
truly blue, like a dull baby blue, on the dark side. This guy did
have amber that fluoresced bright green under a UV light, but was a
transparent brown under ordinary light. his website is ambarazul.com
if I remember it right.


#5

I have a Dominican Republic Amber story. In 1980 I vacationed there
with my mother. She bought a large, beautiful piece of amber. When we
got back to the hotel we began to question its authenticity because
of the price… very low. The next day we talked to someone in a nice
store about how you knew if it was amber or not. (This predates all
of my journey into beads, jewelry making, etc.) We were told that if
you burned it with a match there was a distinct fragrance of cedar as
I remember it. The point of this story, however, is not what kind of
tree it smelled like. The point of this story is that we burned the
heck out of one corner of a fabulous piece of amber. It wasn’t until
years later that I figured out there was anything that could be done
to remedy the damage. Of course, the shape was never quite the same
again. Don’t we all have wonderful stories to tell about how we have
learned life’s little lessons as we have gone along!

Pat Klein


#6

I was in the Dominican Republic this spring. The amber they showed as
blue color was under black light and sometimes you could see a bluish
tint out in the sun. I am pretty sure most amber has this effect.

Rick


#7

Hi Pat,

We were told that if you burned it with a match there was a
distinct fragrance of cedar as I remember it. The point of this
story, however, is not what kind of tree it smelled like. The point
of this story is that we burned the heck out of one corner of a
fabulous piece of amber. It wasn't until years later that I figured
out there was anything that could be done to remedy the damage. Of
course, the shape was never quite the same again. Don't we all have
wonderful stories to tell about how we have learned life's little
lessons as we have gone along! 

Another method that can be used isn’t quite as severe as the match.

Heat a needle or some similar steel item. Then while it’s hot touch
the item under test in an obscure spot. If it’s amber it’ll produce
the cedar aroma.

Dave


#8

As far as I know, the blue on some Dominican amber is due to
fluorecense under long wave ultra violet light. And since the sun
light carries a certain amount of that radiation, so we see that blue
hint on its surface.

Fernando


#9

Do you remember what the asking price for the blue amber was?

tkx and Happy New Year
Simone


#10

Isn’t there a test for authentic amber where you put it in water to
see if it floats?

Thanks for all the helpful responses on this subject. If I’ve
learned anything it’s to be wary of fakes.


#11
Isn't there a test for authentic amber where you put it in water to
see if it floats?.....If I've learned anything it's to be wary of
fakes 

The water test for amber is a test of specific gravity or bouyancy,
however some kinds of plastic material used for fake amber will pass
this test.

Much of what is sold as amber is resin, and very often copal is sold
as amber, yet there are millions of years in age difference between
copal and amber.

Many experts insist that the only way to identify true amber is by
pokeing it with a hot needle, but it requires a lot of experience to
identify the difference in the resulting evergreen smell between
copal, resin and amber, plus you have to be quick about sniffing the
puff of fragrance emitted or you might miss it. Plastic is easy to
disqualify with the hot needle test because it stinks.

I test amber with 3 non-damaging tests. Usually fake amber will not
pass all three tests, but true amber will pass all three tests.

To use the specific gravity test, dissolve 4 tablespoons of salt in
a cup of water and then put the amber in the water. If the piece
sinks, then it can be disqualified because it is too heavy to be
amber.

To do the static test, I tear up very tiny bits of paper in a little
pile and set them aside while I rub the piece for a long time, it’s
easy to rub on my pants fabric if I’m sitting. Then touch the piece
to the pile of paper bits. The piece can be disqualified if the bits
of paper do not cling to it.

My third test can require extra time to work. It is the smell test,
but if amber has not been stored in an enclosed box and has been
left out in the open for a long time, it can be difficult to
draw-out the fragrance. Sometimes the rubbing that has been done in
the previous test will produce the evergreen fragrance, but I
usually have to hold the piece under the faucet in running water as
hot as my hand can take. Eventually the sweet fragrance will emerge,
and I usually have to hold the piece up to my nose to be able to
smell it. This test is similar to the hot needle test without the
potential for damage to the piece. Disqualify the piece if it does
not smell like the most wonderful thing you have ever smelled. Keep
trying to draw out the fragrance if you don’t smell anything. Amber
smells the way I imagine a primordial forest would smell.

Nearly all of my experience is with Baltic amber, but Dominican
amber should be able to pass the same tests. An unusual test
specifically for certain kinds of Dominican amber is to view the
piece under a black light and see fluorescent colors in it. I never
had success with this test when I tried it on several pieces of
Dominican amber.

Amber is soft and irregular. I always look for something ugly and
unidentifiable pokeing out of the surface. I avoid amber with sharp
corners because it’s too soft to maintain corners over time. I’m
wary of faceted amber. Colored amber is very rare, so most cherry
amber is probably fake, as well as blue and green amber.

Inclusions that can be identified as insects are usually fake
inclusions (but not necessarily fake amber) because being able to
clearly identify what is inside amber is very rare. Amber can be
melted, and a common trick is to carve a hole in a piece of amber and
put an insect inside then fill the hole with the melted amber.


#12

No, floating is not a discriminating test for amber. If you are
considering buying from someone who tells you that it is, do not
rely on their expertise. Blue and green amber do exist but are rather
rare. It will look “amber” colored with the light shining through it
from behind…I don’t know if dying amber would change that or not.
Insect inclusion also is not a reliable test in itself. One test is
the hot pin test…should release a smell like pine ( but so will
copal…which is virtually worthless…sold by the 50 gal. barrel).
Amber is very successfully counterfeited. Just like stones, consider
the source.

Marianne Hunter
http://www.hunter-studios.com


#13

Betty, I wonder if copal wouldn’t also pass all 3 tests? Have you
tried it?

The most obvious difference for the novice (besides the millions of
years) is that it is slightly stickier to the touch and because it
is softer and stickier it is much harder to polish.


#14
I wonder if copal wouldn't also pass all 3 tests? 

My understanding is that copal is between 1000 to 30,000 years old.
I usually disqualify copal with the specific gravity test, however,
some pieces of older copal will float.

The smell test, like the hot needle test, depends on the tester’s
experience to clearly distinguish between the fragrance of copal and
amber. Copal smells very sweet; a description that may be reinforced
by it’s sticky feel.

Some experienced amber cutters indicate that working with amber
feels somewhat similar to working with jet.


#15
I wonder if copal wouldn't also pass all 3 tests? Have you tried
it? The most obvious difference for the novice (besides the
millions of years) is that it is slightly stickier to the touch and
because it is softer and stickier it is much harder to polish. 

To differentiate amber and copal, apply a little denatured alcohol
to the surface. Copal will dissolve slightly, becoming sticky. Amber
will be unaffected.

Andrew Werby
www.computersculpture.com