You probably know of amber as Baltic amber, which wouldn’t be surprising: Baltic amber is the most common, widely known form of amber in the world, commonly used for adult and kids amber jewellery as well as various necklaces, bracelets and anklets. But Baltic amber isn’t the only type of amber. In fact, the process that leads to the creation of Baltic amber occurs naturally in locations all around the world, on a range of trees and plants which has lead to the formation of countless varieties, types and
colours of amber.
For the longest time, the word amber has been associated with one major type of amber: Baltic Amber. This Baltic Amber is formed from the Pinus Succinifera along the Baltic Sea, and contains between 3 and 8 percent Succinic Acid
. It’s the inclusion of this acid that differentiates Baltic amber from other forms of amber and fossil resins
found throughout the rest of world.
Found in the rare, sought after shades of fluorescent greens and blues, Caribbean amber is found on the island of Hispaniola
, which consists of the Dominican Republic as well as Haiti. Hispaniola holds the unique honour of being the only Caribbean island where amber is found and mined.
Mexican amber is actually similar in many ways to Dominican & Caribbean amber, as it’s produced by the now extinct Hymenaea Mexicanna
tree, which is a relative of the Hymenaea Protera
tree that produces the aforementioned amber. It’s also roughly the same age as Dominican amber - the Miocene era - and is mostly found in the Chiapas region of Mexico.
New Jersey Amber
Found along North America’s Atlantic coastal plains, New Jersey amber is dated as far bas as the Cretaceous period
Dominican amber usually features more fossil inclusions than Baltic amber, and is almost always transparent.
Also called ‘Burmite’, Burmese amber is commonly found in the Hukawng Valley, Kachin State, Myanmar (Burma). A Cretaceous period amber that can be as old as 99 million years, it’s often found containing insect inclusions of the Cenomanian.
Pressed Amber (Ambroid)
Pressed amber - also referred to as Ambroid - isn’t a naturally occurring amber, but rather is made from small, leftover and rejected pieces of amber that are then melted - or fused - together under intense pressure or high temperatures. This form of amber is readily available, cheap to buy and is often indistinguishable from natural baltic amber, making it difficult to determine if it’s genuine, natural amber or not.
Pressed amber will pass many of the standard genuine amber tests
. That’s why a purely visual inspection is often the most successful method to spot it. Pressed amber often boasts a more plastic appearance than its genuine counterpart, is perfectly round or even in shape and contains no air bubbles or imperfections.
Many jewellers use pressed amber beads or settings in their jewellery, as it provides the manufacturer with a more marketable, visually appealing uniform piece of amber jewellery
that can be easily replicated.