How to test your Baltic amber teething necklace. Don't be fooled by the fakes all over the internet. Let me show you how to test your teething necklace from the comfort of your home. Simple easy tests anyone can perform with minimal effort.
With a plethora of endless shops selling Baltic amber teething necklaces it may be hard to determine what is a good deal, and what is just a steal, the merchant stealing your money that is. Don't worry I am here to help, and you may be surprised at just how easy it is to detect a fake from the real thing. So, let's get started.
Non invasive methods of testing.
No one wants to damage their amber in the process of trying to test their product, but some methods can be damaging to your jewelry. However, I have complied a few different methods that are simple, and you can decide which method will work best for you. Or try them all!
This isn't even really much of a test, but it is one of the first tell tale signs that you may have a non authentic piece of Baltic amber. Amber is a warm stone, it will not be cold to the touch, like glass beads are. Baltic amber is also very light, light enough to float in salt water, and therefore you should barely notice it when wearing it, or holding it. One necklace can weigh as little as 1oz. depending on length and size of beads.
Visual Inspection Test:
You can sometimes inspect an amber necklace visually, and tell if it is real or fake by the way the beads look. Look for natural imperfections, cracks and small bubbles. These are common in real Baltic amber. If your beads are perfectly symmetrical and identical, chances are you have a fake.
The Static Test:
Another simple test to do with little effort, and things from around your house, is the static test for Baltic amber. Simply find a soft cloth, like a microfiber cloth, or any other soft fabric around the house.
The object is to create a static charge. Plastics do not create a charge; however, amber will create and build up an electric charge. Rub the jewelry on a cloth for an extended amount of time.
This test isn't fool proof. Some people may not rub long enough or use the wrong fabrics, and no friction, or not enough friction will be generated to create the static pull. If done correctly, you will be able to pick up small fuzzy feathers, or tiny cut or ripped pieces of paper.
The paper should stick to the amber, or at the very least you should be able to see the paper moving when you hold it, and move the charged amber above the pieces of paper. You don't want the paper to be too heavy, or thick. Regular binder paper is just fine. Keep in mind you don't have a huge chunk of amber, you are working with small individual beads, so it may not be as charged as a larger piece of amber can be.
Salt Water Test:
The salt water test is a super simple test anyone can do with minimal effort, and without having to purchase anything to test the product. The key to this test is to make sure the water has enough salt in it, or your real amber necklace could still sink to the bottom.
Salt 1/2 cup
Water 1 cup
Make sure the bowl is deep enough for the item to float in, or sink. If at first the teething necklace doesn't float just add a bit more salt. If it still sinks, chances are you have an imitation piece. This test will not harm your jewelry, but you will want to be sure to rinse it in water to get off any salt deposits after the test.
This test can rule out items like glass beads, and resins that some fake amber necklaces are made with. However, a lot of China imitations use plastics or resins. Plastic can imitate amber easily because it too is light weight, warm to the touch, and floats in salt water. It can be made to look like raw or polished amber, but usually the beads are very identical to one another. However, plastic usually floats in regular water too. So if your necklace floats in salt, try it in unsalted water. If it still floats in unsalted water, it is a fake.
UV Light Test:
Testing Baltic amber teething necklaces with UV light is very easy, and kind of fun too. For this one you will need a piece of amber, a UV flashlight, or room with a UV bulb, the closer you can get the light to the amber the better the result will be.
I personally just bought a small UV flashlight online for about $8 and use it to test my amber. Make sure the room is dark and void of any other light, a bathroom at night usually is a good place with little light pollution. You can always step into a closet if you have room.
Shine the light directly over the necklace. If the necklace begins to glow in the light, congratulations you bought an authentic piece of Baltic amber. The amber should have a bit of a blue hue to it. Keep in mind lighter colored amber glows the most in UV light. The darker the color of amber the less of a glow it gives off in the UV light, and the darker colors tend to have a more purple glow to them.
Also, polished amber doesn't seem to glow half as much as raw amber does. However, note in the picture above that the clasps used on amber teething necklaces are plastic, and you can see they do not glow the same in the UV light. This test is still subject to user error. So trying more than one test to determine if your amber is real or fake may be necessary.
Invasive testing methods:
Some of these methods of testing can be a bit more invasive, and can pose some harm to your amber jewelry, so please take precaution with these methods.
The scratch test is a simple test. You will need a sharp object, like a safety pin, knife, or screw. Something with a pointed tip that you can maneuver without hurting yourself. In an inconspicuous spot try to scrap the surface of the amber fairly hard with a good amount of pressure. You are looking for a line and some crumbling dust of amber breaking away from the scratch.
Amber should be kept away from metals because they tend to scratch up the beads. In this case that is the desired effect we are looking for. Amber is soft enough to be scratched by metal where glass is too hard to see a visible marks, and plastics get scuffed, and have shavings when scratched.
The acetone test is pretty accurate when attempting to distinguish true Baltic Amber from other resins like Copal or from plastics. Drop a few drops of acetone on your amber. True amber will not be affected or harmed by the acetone, but plastics, copal or other synthetic resins will likely turn sticky, and colors may rub off on to a cloth or cotton ball if it is fake. If your amber does not feel tacky to the touch, and you wipe it with a cotton ball and it comes out clean, congratulations. You have a genuine piece of Baltic amber.
Hot Metal Test:
Heat a needle, nail, or screw until the point is glowing red and push it into the amber bead, this will leave a burn/mark, so do it somewhere you won’t mind ruining. Also, amber is fragile, sticking it with a hot needle you might notice some cracks, this could damage your bead. A cracked bead can pose a choking hazard to children 3 or younger, and should be removed from the necklace as a safety measure. A needle will pierce plastic without cracking it. You can usually smell the pine like scent from amber when it is burnt because it is a tree resin. If it is plastic you will not smell pine.
The Knife Test:
This is similar to the scratch test, but a bit more damaging. When scraping a knife against amber you should not be able to cut slices or shavings. Amber is harder than that and should flake or crack off instead. If you are able to make shavings it is not genuine Baltic amber. You can take the knife and begin to press down while trying to cut through the amber.
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It may seem like an impossible feat to know what you are ordering online until it arrives, and not all tests are easily performed, or fool proof. There is one simple way to know what you are getting before you buy it.
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