Archive for the ‘Gemstones – Precious & Semiprecious’ Category

How You Can Tell If It’s Real Amber

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

Baltic amber beadsAmber –  fabulous or faux?

I have always been a fan of amber, since I was a little girl. Its golden color, the way it captures the light, the feel of it. Some moms even swear it soothes their babies’ teething troubles when worn.

Over the years I have accumulated a bunch of different kinds and types of amber. While staring at a piece that was gifted to me with a spider in it, I had to question, just how authentic, really, is that bug trapped in there forever? How would I be able to tell? With a lot of research and testing, I would like to share with you the knowledge I now possess that can help you identify if your amber is the real deal or not.

Amber is not actually a tree sap; it is from the resin of a tree. Tree resin is beneath the bark, used by the tree for protection from insects, animals, or breakage. Resin smells sweet and pine-like and is like syrup in consistency. That smell is actually a chemical called terpenes. Over millions of years, the terpenes chemical breaks down and is completely released from the resin, resulting in amber.  Copal – immature amber – is resin that has not fully released the terpenes chemical.

The word amber is casually tossed around, and stores or dealers could sell you fake specimens, perhaps not even knowing it. A lot of amber is becoming rare, which makes it more expensive. Please be careful and considerate when purchasing! A reputable dealer should be able to tell you why their amber is authentic.

The Taste Test

You can tell if your amber is plastic or resin instead of the real deal just by tasting it. Clean your piece with a mild soap and water and rinse off. Authentic amber will not really have a taste; it should be subtle, and maybe have a little tingly-from-the-touch sensation. Imitation amber will taste nasty or bitter.

The Chemical Test

Real amber will not break down in solvent, unlike resin or copal. If you drip acetone nail polish onto your sample piece and it turns the liquid the color of the amber or it gets gooey at all, it’s fake. Authentic amber will not be harmed whatsoever.

The Burn Test

If you heat up the tip of a safety pin or needle and placed it on your amber or copal, it will smell sweet. Resin will have a nasty chemical smell.

The Saltwater Test

Real amber floats in saltwater. Mix one part salt to two parts water and add your specimen. Fake amber will sink.

The Bubble Test

I have never seen any authentic amber contain bubbles. Over the millions of years that amber has to transform from resin to amber, air and water had the time to exit the resin, only leaving behind solid matter. Hold up the specimen and carefully examine it. If you see any bubbles, you better be cautious.

The Bug Test

Many people have been inserting bugs or fossils into resin or copal and calling it amber. Be cautious! It is quite rare to find bugs in amber, and if you do, make sure they are not any current species that would have not existed in the same form millions of years ago. Look for bubbles near the bugs. If you see bubbles, it’s a fake.

by Megan

Carnelian Agate Gemstone

Saturday, July 14th, 2012

carnelian-stone-beadsCarnelian is the red form of chalcedony. It can be found in a variety of shades – from light ochre to rich bright Chinese red to reddish brown. Often carnelian will be banded with several shades in a single stone. This is a hard stone but not brittle like many others. Carnelian can be carved with a little effort and takes a polish well, and it has been prized by both ancient and modern people for its beauty and durability. A longtime favorite for its natural beauty, some of the earliest carnelian beads found date back to at least 2500 BC.

The Romans used carnelian for signet stones, which is a stone with a design carved into it and set into a ring. The signet ring was worn by the paterfamilias as a badge of authority over all of the members of his family. Paterfamilias is a Latin word that means “head of the house” or “father of the house.” The paterfamilias was the oldest and wisest male of the family. That’s right, women were not equal partners in the Roman world back then. The neat thing about carnelian is that it doesn’t stick to wax, making it perfect as a signet ring for sealing and authenticating documents.

Metaphysically, carnelian is believed to have a grounding energy, enhance creativity and boost physical vitality.

Mohs scale hardness: 6 to 7

by Beverly

Amethyst – the Purple Quartz Gemstone

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

Purple Amethyst Round and Faceted BeadsBrilliant. Regal. Royal. Purple. Amethyst is the queen of all the quartz gems. Just a trace of (more…)

Rose Quartz, the Heart Stone

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

Rose Quartz BeadsRose quartz contains trace amounts of (more…)

What is Quartz?

Monday, May 14th, 2012

The most common elements in the earth’s crust are (more…)