Due to the increasing popularity of amber, there are more and more fake pieces in circulation. Especially for the popular pieces that contain insects. It is therefore important to know how to distinguish genuine Baltic amber from fake products. We start by looking at the materials that are often use for forgery.
Copal is a much younger variant (1.000 – 1.000.000 years old) of amber and still contains liquid oils inside. It melts at a relatively low temperature (below 150 degrees) and is therefore easy to use to manually insert insects. It looks quite similar to amber and is therefore often sold as such. When heating Copal you can smell the sweet scent of resin instead of the coniferous smell of amber.
Glass is not difficult to distinguish from amber. It is much more solid and, due to its hardness, cannot be scratched by metal. Furthermore, glass feels colder in your hand than amber.
Phenolic resin is commonly used to make fake amber. They can imitate the colour and shape almost exactly. You can heat the phenolic resin to recognise the difference with amber. The scent is that of burned plastic instead of the natural pine tree smell.
Casein or cheese dust
They use Cheese dust or casein to fake the amber with a milky yellow colour. It is however slightly heavier than amber and also recognizable by its plastic smell during combustion.
Also modern plastic lends itself for amber forgeries, the colours are hardly distinguishable from real ones. It is a popular method to fake insect inclusions. Therefore always pay attention that the inclusions are not too perfect and that the insects are not too big. For insects larger than 10 mm, you should start wondering if they are real. Plastic will also smell different then real amber when heated.
Read how you can test if your amber is real