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   Insects, etc. in Amber
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Amber, simply put, is ancient tree sap that has turned to stone over time. Scientifically, amber is the resin of certain trees that has fossilized over millions of years. It is a light, organic substance that is usually yellow or orange in color and often transparent. It is formed by trees exuding resin, usually through breaks or cuts in the bark. Once the resin is expelled, it hardens and drops to the ground. It is eventually buried in the dirt at the base of the tree and hardens further. Over the next few thousand years, this resin is called COPAL, which is still soft and essentially unfossilized. Copal is usually much younger in age than true amber, and is much less desirable to jewelry makers and collectors. Copal that is preserved in sandstone will eventially become amber over time - Copal that is preserved in clay will take much longer to fossilize. This transformation is called "amberization", and is an ongoing process that takes millions of years. At this point, this inert resin is considered to be true fossilized amber.


Amber deposits are found in many different parts of the world, but most of the sources are small and localized. The majority of these areas do not produce commercial quality amber, but a select few have supplied most of the amber we see today. The two main areas that commercially mine amber are Europe's Baltic Coast and the Dominican Republic (less productive sites include Mexico, Burma, and New Jersey). Both sites are generally regarded as the two best amber-producing localities in the world. Most of the amber we offer on our website will be from either the Baltic Region or the Dominican Republic.


Baltic Amber comes from Eastern Europe countries near the Baltic Sea (Poland, Lithuania, Russia, etc.). It is Eocene in age (approximately 50 million years old). Baltic Amber is usually lemon-yellow to orange in color, and ranges in quality from opaque to clear. Usually, the clear to semi-clear amber is used for jewelry, although some cheaper jewelry uses the cloudy amber. Most insect inclusions are found in the clear amber, making the identification and photographing of these insects relatively easy. Many different insects have been identified in Baltic Amber, as were plants and some unusual animals. These inclusions are highly collectible and extremely valuable. Some of the insects found in Baltic Amber have never been found anywhere else in the world.


Dominican Amber comes from the Dominican Republic on the island of Hispanola. It is regarded as being Oligocene in age (40 million years old), although some experts argue the age may range from 15 to 50 million years old. Dominican Amber ranges from light yellow to a deep, dark red (green and blue amber have been found, but they are extremely rare). Usually, commercial Dominican Amber is slightly darker than Baltic Amber, being varying shades of orange (honey to cognac colored). Almost all Dominican Amber is clear, making it a perfect medium for jewelry. The insect inclusions are usually more diverse than Baltic Amber, and more plants and flowers seem to be found in Dominican Amber. These inclusions are highly collectible and extremely valuable. Some of the insects found in Dominican Amber have never been found anywhere else in the world.


Unfortunately, anytime an item is regarded as valuable, it will be copied and faked. Amber is no exception. There are two main types of fake amber - natural and man-made. An example of natural fake amber is Copal. Copal looks like amber - light yellow or brown and clear with natural insect inclusions. But it is almost too transparent - very little color and usually clear as glass. It also smells like pine when rubbed. Most Copal on the market comes from Columbia, South America. It is sometimes referred to as "Rainforest Amber" and sold as true amber. Its value is a fraction of true amber, so occasionally it is passed off as amber to unsuspecting buyers. Also, Copal seems to have more prolific inclusions - many insects in one piece. True amber rarely produces such "swarms" - Copal does. Man-made resins, too, can be made to resemble amber. Some modern plastics make it very hard to differentiate it from amber without chemical tests. One rule of thumb about inclusions in fake amber - is it too good to be true? Is it a frog, a butterfly, a lizard, or an extremely large insect - things usually astronomically rare in amber? If it is, it is almost definitely a fake - modern Copal or man-made resin.

AMBERCOMPANY.COM only sells REAL AMBER on this website - never Columbian Copal or man-made resin. We guarantee each and every item we offer to be true fossilized amber. We supply amber specimens to museums and universities around the world, and private collectors alike. If you have a question about our amber, simply contact us. If you have a piece of "amber" you would like us to identify, just let us know - we will do our best. Thank you for visiting, and enjoy your trip back in time!