The inspiration and miraculous creation of amber belongs to nature. It has been born to promote life, to conjure evil. This is exactly how resin works on coniferous trees, the birthplace of amber. I personally believe that whatever was born and has lived to do good shall remain immortal, and this might very well explain why amber is immortal. I say 'immortal' because from the moment amber is born to reside in some coniferous tree in the form of resin until the moment it has been fossilised, at which point it is official called 'amber', more than 30 million years must have passed. During all those years, a perfect life circle was completed and a new one has begun. The forest trees, to which the earth gave birth, gave in their turn birth to resin. Subsequently, due to geological formations these forests disappeared and were buried inside the earth burying their resin along. It is at this point that the new circle of life shall commence; the resin is subjected to the temperatures and pressures of the location, where it was buried, evolves, progresses, and in the end turns into fossil. There will again come a time, when it will see the light of the sun, breathe and have the chance to present itself to the entire world around it. Humans will gaze at it, will be charmed by its uniqueness and will finally give it a special place in their heart. Amber is not merely beautiful; it is something more important than that. It has never digressed from its path, it has never denied his reason of existence, namely his ability to heal. Ancients used to believe that it contains and transmits positive energy, while it can also act therapeutically on various diseases. For all these reasons, it was much sought after, but could only be owned by kings and dignitaries, since its price was rather prohibitive. Amber was also known in ancient Greece under the name electron due to the static electricity produced, when amber is rubbed with other materials attracting thus small particles. It is noteworthy that Aristotle studied amber and came to the conclusion that it was a living entity.
Amidst the various amber qualities, Baltic amber stands out and enjoys great appreciation. Starting from the bottom of the Baltic Sea, it emerges on the sea surface and then ends up on one of its coasts. This happens because the bottom of the sea hosts a prehistoric forest. The main characteristic features that makes it stand out is its age, which usually exceeds 30 million years, as well as its Succinic acid content (scientists also call Baltic amber succinite). Baltic amber is chosen for the creation of supreme quality jewellery due to its transparency that generously brings out its warm colours. Every sunbeam falling on it becomes one body with it, as if in love, and all of a sudden an impressive shine is overflowing from within the gem capturing the attention of everyone around.
In scientific terms, we would say that amber is the fossilised tree sap (resin) of ancient coniferous trees, i.e. a product of oxidisation and polymerisation of the organic compounds of resin. Its specific gravity is 1.08, while its hardness ranges from 2 to 2.5 in the Mohs scale. It is an isotropic with a refractive index of 1.54 – 1.55, while its melting point ranges between 295 °C and 395 °C (Baltic amber). Its colour usually varies from brown and orange to cognac and yellow. Less frequently we find amber in red hues, vibrant black or white, while there are also cases, albeit even rarer, of greenish or bluish amber. The colour of amber is indicative of its history. The specific pressure and temperature, to which amber was subjected until it is fossilised or even the specific type of resin, from which it originates, determine its colour. In addition to colour variation, Baltic amber can be found in all degrees of transparency from absolutely transparent to entirely opaque (cloudy). The cloudiness or turbidity often observed inside the gemstone is caused by the enclosed gas bubbles, whilst less often inclusions such as leaves, twigs, soil or other materials such as lime are to be found embedded in it. Rarely, amber with encased fossils, such as insects or bugs, is to found in nature. Some of these creatures that had been trapped inside the liquid resin thousands of years ago have been identified by scientists as extinct species.
The recognition of genuine amber and its distinction from plastic or synthetic imitations is of prominent importance. Beyond amber's physical properties, which may be recognised empirically, you can further evaluate the genuineness of your Kombolói by poking one of its beads with a heated pin. If the amber is genuine, the beads will give off a pleasant resinous odour. Another test you can apply to distinguish genuine gems from fake is the scrape test. Try to detach a shaving from a bead. If the amber is genuine, this cannot possibly happen. Since amber is brittle and crumbly, powder or small granules will only be produced. An additional distinguishing feature of amber is that it is buoyant enough to float in sea or salt water. Amber can also be identified by the fact that it is a poor conductor of heat, a property that has been widely appreciated. This is why it is warm and pleasant to touch. Another criterion based on which the gem's authenticity can be verified is its colour change over the passing of time. Genuine amber is dressed in darker colours, such as brownish hues, due to its oxidation caused by atmospheric air. On the contrary, the so-called pressed amber, reference to which is made in what follows, turns into white when oxidised. Although there are many imitations of amber, the most convincing ones are the imitations of various resins that have been subjected to artificial processing. We should also take into mind that in order for a resin to be called amber, it should have been undergone to a fossilisation process of over 30 million years. More recent fossils are called Copal. Materials such as the aforementioned exhibit some of amber's properties, such as its buoyancy in seawater, since they are equally lightweight. Nevertheless, this does not make these materials amber; besides a ship can also float in seawater. Frequently, the tiny granules or powder produced during amber processing are reused. They are in other words heated, softened and then welded under high temperatures creating the so-called "pressed amber". Cheap mixtures can be also produced by mixing a small percentage of amber powder and artificial resins. Unfortunately, there is nowadays a tendency to name every single amber mixture 'Faturan' triggered of course by the immense success of this highly appreciated and sought after material. Some of the aforementioned tests aiding at detecting genuine amber might stain or destroy a kombolói and should therefore be conducted in inconspicuous locations thereof. You should bear in mind that the tests used for discriminating amber from impostors are only indicative and the best method to certify its quality would be a combination of various tests. It has been proven that other less valuable materials might share some of amber's properties, such as static electricity that is also observed in synthetic materials. These properties cannot therefore be regarded as criteria for the identification of true amber. Last but not least, an all-important factor in choosing and purchasing genuine amber Kombolóis is the reliability and knowledge of the person offering these items to us. Beyond any doubt, experience is one of the best allies in our attempts to certify the quality of this gemstone.
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