Mineral Review

Is it possible to make artificial amber?

Scientists have been arguing about what amber is for a long time. Legends and myths were formed by people trying to explain its origin. In the distant 16th century, the history of amber began in Babylon and continues to this day. The secrets and mysteries of amber still interest scientists. The issue of reviving amber fishing is more relevant than ever, because on the world market the demand for amber products has begun to grow steadily. However, in the modern world there is a global problem – counterfeits. In the modern world, everything is counterfeited, from money to historical documents of worldwide significance. This pseudo-art has not spared the jewelry industry: very often you can encounter counterfeiting of precious and semi-precious stones, which include amber, so the production of artificial amber is a current topic of research. The practical significance of the work lies in the fact that the information obtained from the results of the research work can be used for education on the differences between artificial and natural amber, as well as making amber at home. The goal of the work is to obtain artificial amber using different methods and compare it with natural stone. 1. Based on popular scientific literature, study the material on the research topic. 2. Get amber at home. 3. Compare natural and artificial stones Methods: analysis of popular scientific literature, observation, experiment, comparative analysis. Object of study: artificial amber. Subject of research: obtaining amber using different methods. Hypothesis: if you have complete information about obtaining artificial amber, you can Find the use of cheaper material for human creative ideas. Reagents and equipment: epoxy (resin + hardener), water, rosin, turpentine, rubber, mixing container, pipette, plastic stick, hardening mold, fine sandpaper, gloves.

  1. Origin of amber

The most complete information about the origin of amber was first described in the well-known “Natural History of Precious Stones” by Pliny the Elder (23 – 79 AD). Pliny believed that amber is formed from the liquid resin of coniferous trees, which hardens under the influence of cold, time and sea water, falling into the waves during the surf.

The famous Middle Eastern physician Abu Ali Ibn Sina (Avicenna) pointed out the plant nature of amber in his book “The Canon of Medical Science”: “They say that the rum nut tree grows in a river called Larindanos. From this tree comes gum; When released, this gum immediately thickens in water.”

The second half of the 6th century can be considered a turning point in the development of views on the origin of amber. M.V. Lomonosov in his works provided undeniable evidence of the plant origin of amber. Among Western scientists, M.V. Lomonosov’s idea about the plant origin of amber was supported by the professor of the Koenigsberg Academy and University FS Bock.[XNUMX]

How was amber formed?

The first stage in the formation of amber was the abundant release of resin from coniferous trees, which is associated with a sharp warming of the climate at that time.

At the second stage of amber formation, the resin was buried in forest soils, with the participation of oxygen.

The third stage in the formation of amber is marked by erosion, transfer and deposition of fossil resins into the water basin.

At the final stages of this process, not only amber is formed, but also glauconite, a mineral that constantly accompanies amber accumulations. .[6]

1.2 Properties of amber

The degree of transparency, color, morphology, shine, fracture, hardness, fragility, ability to become electrified by friction, smell, taste, powder color, optical properties, specific gravity were studied in 1816 by J. F. John. He described the effect of air, water, heat, various reagents, alcohol, alkalis, acids, ether, and oils on amber.

Until now, not a single solvent is known in which amber would completely dissolve without decomposition. Amber does not dissolve in water. Partially soluble in some organic compounds. But it completely disintegrates in hot concentrated nitric acid.

S.S. Savkevich proved that amber has quite pronounced photoluminescence under the influence of ultraviolet radiation. In addition, amber has triboluminescence. It appears as a weak yellowish glow when amber is ground in a mortar in a well-darkened room, and when burned, amber releases vapors with an aromatic odor.

Since the density of amber is approximately equal to the density of sea water, therefore, amber sinks in fresh water, and floats in salt water. The hardness of amber on the Mohs scale corresponds to 2 – 2,5 points.

Since amber is a poor conductor of electricity, it was used to make insulators.[6]

1.3 Types and varieties of amber

There are several varieties that are distinguished by color intensity and structure.

The most significant is succinite, which is what they mean when they talk about amber as a jewelry material in the narrow sense of the word.

Gedanite is a stone with some opacities, similar in color to beeswax, formed as a result of weathering of oleoresin.

Glessid is an opaque stone of brown or dark honey color, with a large number of foreign impurities.

Statienite – has a specific black color; for its formation, a drop of oleoresin needed to enter an environment saturated with iron compounds

Bockelite is an elastic, dark mineral that does not transmit light. .[4]

1.4 Types of fakes

The following materials are sold as amber on an industrial scale:

Copal, cowrie resin are natural materials belonging to the variety

Bernite is a synthetic polyester compound. Defects in the stone are artificially imitated. To make bernite, amber powder with polyester resins is used. You can even give it any shade.

Polyburn is a material with the addition of epoxy resin, the composition was discovered in Germany.

Faturan is a material made from a mixture of waste from amber mining.

Celluloid, a material made from camphor, nitrocellose and colloidal dye, was also used to imitate amber.

Casein (galalite) is a protein that, when processed, imitates amber.

Acrylic is plexiglass that, when painted, imitates amber.

Polyester is also a type of plastic that disguises itself as hardened resin.

Ambdroid is a lower grade of amber, a type of compressed amber.[4]

Real amber is used in art; it is no less popular in jewelry, for the production of exclusive items and things. It is also used for other purposes that correspond to the unique properties of this stone. Glasses for glasses, magnifying glasses and magnifying glasses, and even lenses for microscopes are made from amber.

Amber is melted and used in the production of varnishes for the furniture industry and musical instruments. The pressed stone becomes an insulator, and amber varnishes protect objects from external influences, giving them shine. Amber is indispensable in the electrical industry, instrument making, in the manufacture of medical utensils, devices, instruments used in blood transfusions, and blood preservation, since real amber has low wettability and the ability to prevent hemolysis of blood cells.

Amber products will always be in demand in many areas of human life. With the development of science, it became possible to learn the unique properties of the stone, which made it possible to expand the scope of amber. In the modern world, with high human demands, real amber is increasingly being replaced by artificial amber, which is cheaper and does not differ in appearance.[1]

1.6 Amber deposits

The lion’s share (more than 90%) of all world amber reserves is located in the Kaliningrad region. In this area, mining is carried out in quarries by washing away the soil with water.

Amber can also be found in the coastal areas of the Atlantic Ocean, in Sicily, as well as in countries such as Romania, Myanmar, Canada and Ukraine.[2]

2.1 Artificial amber

You can make artificial amber with your own hands at home. In terms of time, this process will be much faster than it occurs in nature. To do this, you can use one of the following methods:

Method one. Take turpentine resin, shellac and rosin in a 1:2:1 ratio. In a tin vessel, the walls of which must first be greased with oil, it is necessary to melt the turpentine. As the material melts, shellac is gradually added to it, the consistency of the mixture will become thick and take on a white tint. Continue heating the mixture until it becomes clear. After this happens, gradually pour in the pre-melted rosin. With gradual heating, the mass will become more and more transparent; the desired color will be obtained by choosing the appropriate shellac. The longer you heat this mixture, the darker it will be. And a stone created under such conditions will be quite hard. To soften its consistency a little, you should add a little more turpentine. The resulting imitation amber can be cast or shaped by pressing, after which the stone can be polished and ground. Remember that the composition is not sensitive to water, but is soluble in alcohol. .[3]

The second method includes gelatin in the composition of artificial amber. But the version is more labor-intensive, since after pouring the gelatin into the bath, you will need to sprinkle it on top with crushed golden mica sparkles. After the mass has hardened, it is worth pouring a layer of gelatin again, covering it with glitter. The procedure must be carried out several times, and the top of the newly made stone must be coated with cherry varnish. Since the mass is initially liquid, you can add some kind of leaf or insect to it for naturalness and thus imitate inclusions. And any jewelry is made from such amber, from beads to pendants. .[4]

Third technique. To make the “amber” itself you will need ordinary epoxy (resin + hardener). Various polyester resins can be used. A simple recipe: the resin is mixed with a hardener (9:1). Next, a small amount of water is added to this mixture (depending on the diluted volume – from 2 to 30 drops). Next, mix all this until smooth with a plastic or wooden stick in a circular motion.

It is water in combination with resin that will create a unique pattern that completely imitates natural amber. In general, there is a lot of room for imagination here. You can add a few drops of dye, small wood chips, a dead insect, etc.

The resulting composition is poured into the prepared form. Drying time – up to 1 day. Afterwards, the hardened composition is removed from the mold, lightly processed with fine sandpaper and, if necessary, polished. .[5]

Fourth technique. Unlike existing methods for producing artificial amber, this method has low cost and availability of consumables. The composition of artificial amber includes: rosin, turpentine and rubber. The crushed rubber is poured with turpentine and kept until it swells and begins to dissolve. Rubber is dissolved in turpentine when heated, completely or partially, if imitation of veins in amber is required. Rosin is melted and a solution of rubber in turpentine is poured into it while stirring and heating until a homogeneous mass is obtained. From the melt of the resulting mass, products are molded by pressing or casting, which are cooled until completely solidified. The resulting amber is brown in color with dark veins and is resistant to water. .[4]

To obtain our artificial amber, we used methods 3 and 4.

To obtain amber from epoxy, it is preferable to take a transparent, higher quality resin. Cheap epoxy produces a cloudy and difficult to process material.

It is also necessary to monitor the exact ratio of resin and hardener, otherwise the hardening process will take a long time or will not harden at all.

Amber obtained from rosin is not inferior in appearance to real amber, but problems begin when processing such a stone. It is fragile and practically impossible to sand. But the amber chips obtained in this way are an excellent material for artistic creativity.

During the work, only two methods for producing artificial stone were used. In the future, I will definitely study and use other methods, and after comparing the results, I will be able to use the finished stone to fulfill my creative ideas.

If you want to find out if your amber is real, check your home. For this, methods have been invented that will not harm the real stone:

  • If you put the material in a glass of salt water, the fake will sink, but real amber will float on the surface.
  • You can try dropping acetone or alcohol onto the stone. If it is not a natural material, it will leave marks in the form of discoloration or melting.
  • Cheap options made from artificial resins are easily scratched, which cannot be said about natural amber. Although the material obtained from nature is quite fragile and crumbles easily.
  • If you are not afraid of damaging the product, try bringing a heated metal tool to it. If this is a decoration, then carry out the procedure on the wrong side. A smell will come from the melting point: if it is coniferous and pleasant, then the stone is natural. And if the smell reeks of chemicals or plastic, then you have a fake amber in your hands.

But insects will not give an exact answer about authenticity, since even with artificial production, adding inclusions to a stone is quite simple. True professionals, of course, can distinguish whether an insect was placed in amber in a living form, or whether dead material was added. But this cannot be done without a magnifying glass and prior knowledge.

Amber has long been used not only to create small jewelry; entire rooms are made from this stone. The stone contains many years of history of the planet, so amber is quite a valuable material. And many who want to have jewelry with such a stone are interested in whether it is possible to create artificial amber or purchase such a product somewhere. Of course, the procedure is labor-intensive, but the final cost is low and makes the stone affordable for most jewelry lovers.

In nature, amber is formed from the resin or resin of coniferous trees. Scientists now argue that the type of tree is unimportant as stones made from leguminous plants have become common. Therefore, today amber is considered to be a material that is formed from resin or other tree sap and has also been in the ground for at least a million years.

Based on the varieties of amber, natural and climatic conditions are studied, as well as the flora and fauna of those times. Therefore, the stone is popular not only among jewelers, but also historians and geologists are interested in it. You can understand the state of the planet by inclusions, inclusions in the composition of the stone, which can be particles of plants, insects, and impurities from the soil.

How to make amber?

You can make artificial amber with your own hands at home. In terms of time, this process will be much faster than it occurs in nature. To do this, you can use one of the following methods:

  • Method one. Take turpentine resin, shellac and rosin in a 1:2:1 ratio. In a tin vessel, the walls of which must first be greased with oil, it is necessary to melt the turpentine. As the material melts, shellac is gradually added to it, the consistency of the mixture will become thick and take on a white tint. Continue heating the mixture until it becomes clear. After this happens, gradually pour in the pre-melted rosin. With gradual heating, the mass will become more and more transparent; the desired color will be obtained by selecting the appropriate shellac. The longer you heat this mixture, the darker it will be. And a stone created under such conditions will be quite hard. To soften its consistency a little, you should add a little more turpentine. The resulting imitation amber can be cast or shaped by pressing, after which the stone can be polished and ground. Remember that the composition is not sensitive to water, but is soluble in alcohol.
  • The second method includes gelatin in the composition of artificial amber. But the version is more labor-intensive, since after pouring the gelatin into the bath, you will need to sprinkle it on top with crushed golden mica sparkles. After the mass has hardened, it is worth pouring a layer of gelatin again, covering it with glitter. The procedure must be carried out several times, and the top of the newly made stone must be coated with cherry varnish. By the way, this method is often used by restorers.

Since the mass is initially liquid, you can add some kind of leaf or insect to it for naturalness and thus imitate inclusions. And any jewelry is made from such amber, from beads to pendants. The cost of the techniques is much cheaper than natural stone. But you should not use it for industrial purposes, passing it off as amber, since the manufacture and sale of counterfeits is a criminal offense.

Artificial amber beads

Checking the stone

Amber testing can also be done at home. For this, methods have been invented that will not harm the real stone:

  • If you put the material in a glass of salt water, the fake will sink, but real amber will float on the surface.
  • You can try dropping acetone or alcohol onto the stone. If it is not a natural material, it will leave marks in the form of discoloration or melting.
  • Cheap options made from artificial resins are easily scratched, which cannot be said about natural amber. Although the material obtained from nature is quite fragile and crumbles easily.
  • If you are not afraid of damaging the product, try bringing a heated metal tool to it. If this is a decoration, then carry out the procedure on the wrong side. A smell will come from the melting point: if it is coniferous and pleasant, then the stone is natural. And if the smell reeks of chemicals or plastic, then you have a fake amber in your hands.

But insects will not give an exact answer about authenticity, since even with artificial production, adding inclusions to a stone is quite simple. True professionals, of course, can distinguish whether an insect was placed in amber in a living form, or whether dead material was added. But this cannot be done without a magnifying glass and prior knowledge.

Types of fakes

The following materials are sold as amber on an industrial scale:

  • Copal and cowrie resin are natural materials that scientists now classify as a type of amber because they also contain hardened resin. True, this resin is produced not by coniferous trees, but by leguminous plants in hot countries. At the same time, the cost of materials is cheaper than traditional amber.
  • Bernite is a synthetic polyester compound. Defects can be artificially simulated in stone. For its production, amber powder with polyester resins is used. The stone can even be given a green tint.
  • Polyburn is a material with the addition of epoxy resin, the composition was discovered in Germany.
  • Bakelite is a material that was originally used to make plastic cases.
  • Faturan is a material that appeared in the East from a mixture of waste from amber mining, as well as admixtures of local resins.
  • Celluloid – also used to imitate amber. But now the popularity of the material has decreased.
  • Casein is a protein that, when treated with formaldehyde, produces plastic.
  • Acrylic is plexiglass that, when painted, imitates amber. Today it is most often used as stone imitations.
  • Polyester is also a type of plastic that is disguised as hardened resin.
  • Ambdroid is a type of compressed amber. The stone is not a fake, it is simply of a lower grade and, accordingly, less expensive.

Natural amber is an expensive material. Therefore, you should also be wary of the price of the product; if it is fake, it will be cheap. Having bought a natural stone, it will delight you with its appearance and sometimes with a pleasant smell. And if this is not possible, but you really want to wear the stone, think about artificial production of the material: made amber is difficult to distinguish only by appearance.

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