Raw amber

Glass is one of the oldest amber surrogates. When humans learned how to make glass and use it for their various needs, its functionality and the artistic effects in glass products made it the highlight of human clothing and environment.

Beads made of sparkling colourful glass found in Poland come from the Lusatian culture area, from the older phase of the Hallstatt period, i.e. 700-550 BCE. They would come to us from the south, along the River Odra to begin with, but mainly by means of the Amber Route , and from the east by means of the transcontinental route.


Copal is the fossilised natural resin of both deciduous and coniferous trees which occurs in nature in a great number of varieties, mainly in tropical but also in subtropical (New Zealand) regions; or: copal is the partially transformed (subfossil) natural tree resin. “ There is an ongoing discussion in scientific literature [...], about what should be called copal, and what qualifies as a fossil resin. Age is a frequently used criterion and there are those who favour the limiting of copal age to between 10 thousand and 5 million years ” (Barbara Kosmowska–Ceranowicz).

Imitation - ( a counterfeit; copy ) designed to imitate a genuine or superior article or thing.

(Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006 )

Forgery - the production of a spurious work that is claimed to be genuine (Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006) Both natural resins (copal and contemporary resins) and synthetic resins have been used to produce Baltic amber imitations.


Imitations are made in order to replace traditional and scarce products made of natural materials. They are their cheaper substitutes. Baltic amber is imitated because it has found its place in the public consciousness and is therefore highly valued, desirable and sought after.


Based on the decisions of the Ukrainian Ministry of Finance – the State Gemmological Centre in Kiev.



There are fundamental differences between the Polish classification and the principles in force in the Russian Federation . They pertain mainly to two issues:

1. According to the Russian classification, amber pressed from grains or meal can be used in jewellery with pigments or plasticisers added during the pressing.

2. It is admissible to paint the surface of amber products or the bottom sides of the gemstones set in jewellery.


The Terminology and Definitions of Gemstones made of Baltic Amber (succinite) of the International Amber Association







The number of fossil resins known to science is constantly growing and according to various sources ranges from 150 to 320, depending on whether a given resin is considered to be an independent type or a variety of types which were classified earlier. The term amber has become synonymous with fossil resin (which basically refers to any fossil resin over 1 million years old) towards the end of the 20th century so we have many ‘ambers’ in the broad sense of the word. Most of them are of no economic value because of their being unfit for processing or their scarcity.
The movie “Jurassic Park" has given worldwide fame to Dominican Amber. Unfortunately, although known in the Old World since the days of Christopher Columbus, due to historical developments, Dominican Amber has played a less important role on the world scene of amber.

Thanks to the help of Russian amber jewellers from Leningrad, who worked periodically in Japan , I have long been receiving samples of a fossil resin extracted from the slopes of Mt Kuji, near the town of the same name. The town is located in the northern part of Honshu, Japan 's largest island, on the coast of the Pacific Ocean.


This resin, now called Japanese amber, has features somewhat similar to succinite (Baltic amber) in terms of workability, although it requires much greater care in all the operations, especially when it's being polished because of its tendency to “stretch.”


The present study assesses the usefulness of fossil resins from the point of view of their usefulness for the production of gemstones, works of art and ornaments. Therefore, we disregard the possibility of using resins in chemical processing and / or as fuel.

Workable fossil resins, i.e. amber in the broad sense of the term, do not include sub-fossil resins, usually called copal (although in Polish, the name suggests ‘digging’), because in fact the name copal is derived from the language of South-American Indians and means resin juices. Hardened contemporary resins are not considered fossil resins either.