Copal melts at lower temperatures and in the conventional way. Amber emits very pleasant piney smell when heated. Real amber should not dissolve or become sticky. While some plastics will not dissolve in the alcohol, they will be dissolved by acetone.
This means that it cannot be scratched with a fingernail, while copal is softer and can be visibly damaged by a fingernail (it has a hardness of about 1.5). Hardness Amber has hardness on the Mohs scale between 2 and 3 – approximay 2.5. Glass and hard resins also cannot be scratched with a fingernail at all. 6.
In the recent times, with the development of plastics and synthetic resins, counterfeit or tempered amber became even more difficult to recognize. The difference between glass and amber is relatively easy to recognize – glass is heavier, colder and harder than amber.
And since salt water has a higher density, both of them will float in it. Real amber will not be harmed by solvents and will not dissolve, while fake amber will.
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In comparison to real amber it is less dense, with a specific gravity of 1.03 to 1.08, while real amber shows a gravity of 1.05 to 1.10. But sometimes our judgment is false, so we can use these six simple tests to recognize real amber. There are a few ways to identify fake amber and also several simple tests to recognize real amber. In South America, there are various species of leguminous trees, smaller plants with nodules inside their roots.
Carnauba wax melts in boiling water, colophony becomes pasty therein, while Alcohol does not dissolve amber or dammar; it agglutinates copal, and partly.
Ether does not dissolve amber and shellac; it makes copals swell, and partly but slowly dissolves carnauba wax; it readily dissolves dammar, colophony, elemi, sandarac, and mastic.
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Sulphuric acid does not dissolve carnauba wax; it dissolves and colors all other resins brown, except dammar, which becomes bright red.
But because amber is a lightweight organic fossil resin, it is possible to imitate using lightweight plastics and synthetics. Some imitations are made with the purpose of creating false insect inclusions, rather than creating a false piece of amber in general. There are a few tests one can do to determine real amber from imitations. Baltic amber is considered the highest quality in the world.
Solvent test. Amber is warm to the touch and when rubbed, it will become electrostatically charged and will attract lint/dust particles.
If the surface becomes tacky, it's not amber. Amber will not feel tacky or dissolve under these solvents. Amber will float or be buoyant in seawater. Salt-saturated water (about 2.5 tablespoons per 1 cup water) will show that imitations of amber will sink in salt water.
There are a few tests one can do to determine real amber from imitations. But because amber is a lightweight organic fossil resin, it is possible to imitate using lightweight plastics and synthetics. Some imitations are made with the purpose of creating false insect inclusions, rather than creating a false piece of amber in general. Baltic amber is considered the highest quality in the world.
If the surface becomes tacky, it's not amber. Buoyancy test. A few drops of acetone (fingernail polish remover) or alcohol dripped over the surface of the piece will reveal if it holds up to the solvent.