How to recognize forgeries of Baltic amber? Test your own amber.

Due to the rising popularity of amber, forgeries are becoming increasingly common, especially with the popular pieces containing insects. Therefore, it's essential to know how to distinguish real Baltic amber from fakes. Here, you can read about the materials most commonly used for amber forgeries and what tests you can perform yourself to discern real from fake. All pieces offered in our shop are 100% authentic.

Most commonly used materials for forging Baltic Amber


Copal is a much younger variant (1000 - 1 million years old) of amber and still contains liquid oils inside. Copal melts at a relatively low temperature (below 150 degrees) and is therefore easy to use to manually insert insects. Due to its great similarities with amber, it's often mistakenly offered as amber. When burnt, Copal emits the sweet scent of resin.


Glass is not hard to distinguish from amber. It is much solider and cannot be scratched by metal due to its hardness. Furthermore, glass feels colder than amber.

Phenolic Resin

Phenolic resin, or synthetic resin, is commonly used for amber forgeries. The color and shape can be almost exactly replicated. To recognize the difference, the phenolic resin can be heated, and the fake will emit a smell of burnt plastic instead of the scent of pine.

Casein or Cheese substance

Cheese substance is often used for amber with a milky yellow color. It's slightly heavier than amber and can also be recognized by its plastic smell when burnt.

Modern Plastic

Modern plastic is also well suited for amber forgeries; the colors are hardly distinguishable from real amber. Modern plastic is often used for insect forgeries. Therefore, always pay close attention to whether the inclusions are not too perfect and the insects not too large. With insects larger than 10 mm, you can already assume they are fake. Also, plastic will not emit a pine scent when burnt.

Tests to recognize real amber

"Smell" test

The most effective method is the 'smell' test. Amber has a specific scent of pine trees that is not easy to replicate. Forgeries of Copal will emit a sweeter scent of resin. Plastic forgeries will also smell of burnt plastic when heated.

"Rub" test

It's best to perform this test in the palm of your hand. It's possible to heat amber by rubbing until it emits the scent of pine. However, you'll need sturdy hands, and it's quite challenging to rub polished amber to the right temperature.

"Hot needle" test

This is probably the most effective way to determine authenticity. Heat a needle and pierce it into the amber (preferably in an existing or drilled hole). The scent of pine is unmistakable. Keep in mind that this is not the pure air you are used to from conifers, but mixed with the burnt scent of other materials (needle, fabric, pollution), however clearly distinguishable from burnt plastic.

"Salt water" test

Amber (but also copal) will float on salt water. This is also the reason why so many pieces wash ashore from the sea. Scoop 7 or 8 tablespoons of salt into 300 milliliters of water, stir until all the salt is dissolved. If the amber sinks, you are dealing with a forgery. Note! Copal and polystyrene will also float in this test!

Infrared Spectroscopy

Infrared spectroscopy is the most effective scientific way to recognize authenticity. Baltic amber is characterized by its own IR spectrum, called the "Baltic amber shoulder".

Bank transfer Belfius iDEAL Maestro Bancontact KBC MasterCard Visa Visa Electron American Express Giropay EPS PayPal
My account
You are not logged in. Log in to make use of all the benefits. Or create an account now.
Language & Currency
Your cart is empty
Search suggestions
No products found...