Amber


Amber is fossilized tree resin.  It has been a precious gem to many cultures for thousands of years.  Amber was made popular in recent years by the movie, Jurassic Park.  Amber is usually a glowing, dark golden color.  It can also be found in greens and blues.  The value of a peice of amber is strongly affected by the types of “inclusions” there are inside.  Insects, flowers and even small animals can be found preserved for millions of years inside the amber.

The Most Valuable Amber

The most valuable amber has a rich, intense color of either a reddish hue or a rare green or blue.  The clarity is perfect (no internal inclusions), EXCEPT in the case of an entrapped small animal (such as a mosquito). In that case, the amber should be clear except for the insect and the insect should be easily visible in the center of the stone.  The best amber is always natural (not pressed or treated), very well cut and of a substantial size.

Lowest Value: Here are some small amber beads.  They are low value because they are “pressed” instead of natural, and they are small and irregularly shaped.  Their best feature is their rich amber color. Medium Value: This is a peice of natural baltic amber.  The color is rather pale, and the clarity is poor: there are many small “flecks” of things inside, but none of them especially interesting or valuable.  It has a pretty good cut and fairly large size.  This peice could be bought for under $100. High Value:  This amber peice has a fly inside it.  The gemstone could be clearer, so that we could better focus on the insect, but it has fairly decent clarity.  The color is rich and of course, it is natural.  Such a peice could sell for several hundred dollars. Highest Value: This amber bead necklace sold at a Christie’s auction for $3,300 dollars.  It is valuable because each bead is perfectly clear, well cut, richly colored genuine amber.

 

Clarity

The clarity of amber affects its value relatively subjectively.  It is not, as with most gems, “the clearer, the better.”  Different groups of people value different kinds and levels of clarity in amber.  Below is an illustration that will be a guideline for what to expect in terms of price.  But to decide which peice of amber is the best one to buy, you will need to form your own opinion based on what you like.

Opaque: In the middle east, this kind of opaque amber has traditionally been the most prized and relatively expensive.  In the west, it is not the most desirable. Natural Inclusions: Leaves and non-descript “bits” inside the amber don’t add to its value.  It is better to have a peice of perfectly clear intensely colored amber or amber with rare inclusions. However, such inclusions can often be an indicator that the amber is natural and not “pressed”. Perfect Clarity:  These amber beads are very “gem quality”.  When you see amber this clear, the most important thing is to make sure it is genuine natural amber and has not been “pressed”.  If it is natural, it can be quite valuable. Valuable Inclusion:  This peice of amber contains two large insects.  The collection and valuation of “fossil” amber like this is a very particular study that digresses from gemstones.  For the purpose of jewelry, when the insect is prominently placed and easily visible inside the stone, it can be 10 times more valuable than the same amber without the inclusion.

Color

Color is one of  the most important factors in determining the value of a peice of amber.  Pale, yellowish amber is the least valuable.  Intense reddish amber, and the rarer shades of blue and green are the most valuable.

Pale: This is the least valuable color of amber.  It is too yellow and too pale. Typical: This is what you typically see in amber gemstones.  These beads have a lovely, but unexceptional “amber” color. Blue Dominican:  This blue, glowing amber is only found in the dominican republic.  It is unusual and valuable among collectors. Deep Red:  This dark intense color of red is also a very valuable color for amber gemstones.

 

Treatments

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