During the 1890's till about the 1920's, Amber beads were very popular. Amber then is different from the amber we have now. The inclusions and air bubbles were considered unattractive so the amber was melted to remove them before forming the beads. Somtimes the beads even had a celluloid core.
Amber is a fossilized tree resin. It is one of the oldest gems known to man. Over fifty million years ago trees taller than the Redwoods of today grew along the shores of the Baltic Sea. The Glacier Age caused them to be swept into the sea. There they solidified under ice and pressure. Scientits believe that the trees probably had a fungus of some type because the resin was so loose it even surrounded dew drops. Amber often has insects, petals of flowers, seeds and bark locked inside. These add to the value of the gem.
Amber can be found in not only a light yellow (honey colored), but also brown or red (cherry amber). The color seems to vary according the depth of water into which the tree fell. Amber can be translucent, opaque, or a mixture of both.
The best way to become acquainted with amber is to hold a piece. It is so LIGHTWEIGHT that long beautiful strands can be worn with ease.
How does one know if it's real amber or not? Well, there are a few tests for amber, but not all are recommended. If testing a piece will damage it, it's now worth doing. The test of sticking a hot needle into an inconspicuous spot on the amber for instance. If the piece is genuine, it will emit a pine-like odor. There is the test with ETHER. Put a small amount on a cotton swab and apply it to the piece. If the piece is genuine, the ether will not affect it. If it is plastic, it will be come sticky and the ether will eat into it. Again, not a great test... because if it's not amber, you've really destroyed the piece! Ok... so then there is the harmless test... which is to rub the amber piece briskly with woolen or cotton material and then immediately place the amber in contact with a plastic straw, or a piece of tissue paper. If they are real amber, they will lift the straw or tissue and sometimes even the point of a very fine needle.