RAW vs Polished amber, which do I need?
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.
MANY people also come to me with the question of "is the lighter colored amber stronger?" the answer is NO! All colors of amber heal the same. The condition (RAW or Polished) is what really makes the difference for those needing the extra pain relief. 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
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
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.
A little more info from one of my wonderful suppliers.
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
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.
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".
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
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
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
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.