People often come to me asking this very question. SO I think it is time I devote a page to this very question as well as more information on Baltic amber.
RAW Baltic amber is unprocessed, untreated amber that has come directly from the Baltic Sea. It is the true form of amber and also contains extra layers of succinic acid which is what relieves pain and helps with all other issues amber can help with. Since raw amber does have extra succinic acid in/on it it is considered (and proven) to be MAXIMUM strength amber. Due to the great relief Raw amber gives it is the only amber I will use on newborns for gas and colic and is also what I recommend most for severe/chronic pains and also for GERD! You can also make your raw amber look polished by soaking it in baby oil and water. This will not effect the amber’s healing just makes the colors more vibrant.
Polished Baltic amber has been heat and pressure treated to make it shine. This amber does still contain succinic acid in healing amounts and works well with teething babies as well as other issues even in adults. This amber is often used for pain relief and does work well.
Here is a little info on the colors of amber and how they become that way copied from a Swedish Baltic amber museum.
Most true Baltic amber is milky and pale under the crust. The warm “amber” color occurs first after it has been exposed to oxygen for about a hundred years. To make amber more attractive to the purchases, todays industrial amber jewelry producers are manipulating to get the warm brown-reddish amber color, which often also includes discs, called sunspangles.
The most common method make amber clear is to put the material under pressure and heat in an autoclave together with nitrogen. After this procedure, it is put into an oven to obtain the sunspangles and the cognac color. This heating and treating is made to make amber jewelry more attractive.
Baltic amber occurs naturally in a variety of colors: white, yellow, brown, black, red, green and blue. The most common are honey-colored and milky. A small percentages is bone white, due to microscopic gas bubbles. The clear and translucent amber results from flowing and dripping resin. This kind often shows layers from continuing flow on already dried resin. The black and dirty brown colors are caused by a mix of resin, soil and plant fragments. The most rare have a tone of green or blue caused by gas or inclusions. If the craftsman keeps part of the natural shape, when sanding the raw amber, the crust or inclusions give a natural variety of multicolored tones.
Amber can vary in color from yellow to red, from green to blue, but amber’s color is usually honey brown. The best commercial amber is transparent, but some varieties are cloudy. Sometimes insects or pieces of earth, leaves, pine needles and inclusions of small plant and animal fossils are present in the amber. There is greenish, bluish, gray and even black amber. Even more subtle shades and combination are among them. Amber can be absolutely transparent or absolutely opaque. Amber is not always one-coloured: the unique combinations of two or more colours and shades, patterns (sometimes they form the most brilliant compositions of art) can be found. For these reasons amber becomes attractive, charming and unique.
Tree resins are the main amber material. They are transparent, bright yellow-the colour of fresh honey.
Various admixtures and main structural amber elements-very small turpenine gas bubbles change the colour of amber. In a certain density and form they defract the light, which is seen as some kind of colour.
Transparent (with a yellowish shade). This colour of amber could be called “primary”- fresh tree resins are like this. About 10% of amber are transparent, but this is mostly found in small pieces. Big transparent amber pieces are especially rare and valuable. The shade of transparency could change from yellowish to dark red; it depends on the degree of amber oxidation. Inclusions are usually found in foliated transparent amber.
Natural red shade is especially rare (0.5%). Red shades can vary from orange to dark black. This color of amber is mostly obtained artificially by heating transparent amber (oxidizing it).
This is the most common color of amber (about 70% of all colors). As a rule this amber is cloudy, not transparent, it occurs in various shades of yellow. This amber is an inherent part of national female costume.
White amber is very rare (about 1-2% of all amber). Usually this amber is distinguished by its variety of textures and “natural ornamentation”. Amber of this color is also called “Royal” or “Bony”. It could be with some “colorful intrusions” (yellow, black, blue, green, transparent amber) with interesting patterns.
This is the rarest shade of amber and the most valuable (only 0.2% of all amber). Most Frequently this shade is found in white amber.
Greenish amber is also rare (about 2% of all colors). Green transparent amber is very interesting, as it has “sugar structure”.
This is a frequent color of amber (about 15%). It is attractive because of it is natural – the largest part of black amber consists of the remains of tree barks and vegetal matter.
Baltic amber is conifer resin that lost the largest part of its volatile components during fossilization.
Different amber pieces are found from crumbs of 1-2mm to bars one meter long and about 10kg weight. Few big amber pieces are known – if a piece is bigger it is more rare. The biggest amber piece is 47cm long and 9.817kg weight. It is in the Berlin Natural Science Museum. The biggest piece of amber in our museum weighs 2.054 kg.
Amber distinguishes itself by its big variety of colors: scientists count about 250 various colors and shades. Pliny the Elder (23-79 years AC.) wrote about the possibility to obtain any color of amber by processing it in a special way. Now heating (amber gets red shade) and clarifying are the most popular ways of changing the color.
Amber luminescence in yellow or greenish color exposed by cathode and ultra-violet rays.
Amber rubbed into woolen fabric obtains negative charge and attracts small paper pieces.
Index of amber light refraction n=1.53-1.55. Like other minerals that refract light weakly amber can display its range of colors only when it is polished into convex surfaces; geometrical amber surfaces are usually not effective.
Amber hardness is measured according to the Moss scale at 2-2.5; sometimes it increases up to 3 (e.g. diamond – 10).
Its density is 890-1098 kg/m3.
Specific gravity of amber is low and fluctuates from 1.05 to 2 and it floats in salt water. Specific gravity of absolutely transparent amber is 1.1; specific gravity of white amber is 0.93-0.96 – it drifts in pure water.
Amber melting point is about 375oC
AMBER OBTAINS NEGATIVE CHARGE
In the air amber burns with a bright strong smoke flame diffusing a pleasant fragrance reminding pine-tree resins.
Amber never melts completely in any solvent: 20-25% of amber material melts in methyl alcohol; in ether 18-23%; about 23% in acetone; about 205 in chloroform; 21% in benzene, etc.
Organic amber structure is not monolithic. Like fresh tree resins it consists of carbon, oxygen and hydrogen. Frequently it contains 79% of C, 10.5% of O and 10.5% of H. According to O.Helm amber has from 3% to 8% of Amber Acid.