More on Fake Amber
"I had a perspective bidder email me a request to do a test to verify that the piece was genuine amber. It pasted. The test consists of putting the piece into a salt solution of 1.025-1.050 specific gravity. If it floats, it passes. It did float. The other test is to give it a small burn and if it smells of pine it is authentic. I don't want to do this because having a burn mark could lower the value of the piece.
Here is a picture of fake amber at the right Please note that as you travel through the web (or buy in stores), pieces of amber with vertebrates in them run into the many thousands of dollars. You will not pick up a gecko or another lizards for 200 or 500 dollars! Even if you get the 'hard luck' story, it is not going to happen. Do not get greedy, because you will not come out the winner! How is the average person who does not know amber to tell real from fake? I have a detailed page on distinguishing fakes, but first lets take a look at some of the obvious signs.
With this picture, you may be able to see that each insect looks perfect. Note that it appears that this is a fresh specimen, not 20 million years old! Over the millions of years, the insects will degrade and not look 'fresh'. In some fakes, the background (matrix) is uniform in nature. This is easily seen on the two samples on the right. Sometimes the finish looks to smooth. While amber can have this smooth appearance, it is not common. In many fakes, the insects are placed in the dead center, seldom is this the case in natural amber!
Here is a nice piece that sold on e-bay for a few hundred dollars. Scorpions are very rare (I don't even have one) and VERY expensive (neither can I afford one!) Look at the placement and the matrix around the scorpion. The scorpion is very well placed in the mold and there are no 'movement' disturbances around the animal. The matrix is uniform and mottled. To my eyes, the color is off, but that could be because of electronic changes in the picture (I am also colorblind to just about every color you can think about.....)
An interesting one: "Beautiful Baltic Amber pendent with large fossil, appraised by jeweler for 300.00 so start your bidding for this piece has no reserve, and the auction will only last three days. Thank You On 06/27/99 at 17:50:13 PDT, seller added the following information: Forgot to mention this piece weighs almost 14 grams, it's BIG!!!! Also I have over 1000 pounds of rough amber in stock at this time, and I also have finished necklaces, rings earring and pins and pendants in stock set in silver. So remember buy direct you'll be happy you did."
BEAUTIFUL AMBROID AMBER PAPERWEIGHT, WITH HUGH INSECT (GRASSHOPPER) EMBEDDED INSIDE. DIMENSIONS ARE 3 INCHES LONG 2-3/8 INCHES WIDE AND 1 INCH THICK. THIS IS AN UNUSUAL PAPERWEIGHT, A RICH GOLDEN ORANGE. IF YOU COLLECT, DON'T MISS THIS ONE.