AMBER

CHARACTERISTICS OF THE BALTIC AMBER
 
Today more than 250 kinds of the Baltic amber are known. They are determined by color is yellow. Limpidity degree and color intensity depend on the number, size and arrangement of the smallest opaque admixtures in amber.
Flomin (muddy) stones are limpid; it is easy to polish them.
Bastard stones are turlid, having lots of air bubbles. They may be blotted with clods of pearl color (white, light yellow), yellow or brownish. Bone amber is white or ivory, opaque, sometimes with bluish tint.
Physical and chemical characteristics of the Baltic amber are extremely various. Its hardness according to Mohs’ scale is 2-3, but sometimes it reaches 10. The Baltic amber is easily processed, cut, drilled or polished. Amber density is from 1,05 to 1,096 g/cm 3. Water of the Baltic Sea is not very salty. Amber density is little, so it floats in the water and waves coast it ashore. Because of its amorphous structure amber easily cracks. It also easily takes fire and burns in a smoking flame spreading a smell similar to that of incense. It is difficult to determine the exact fusion temperature of the Baltic amber.
When the temperature reaches 170*C, it becomes soft and sticky. This characteristic is used producing pressed amber. Amber fuses and disintegrates when the temperature is above 300*C. Only conofolium is left.
Under the effect of oxidation amber weathers and becomes darker. Because of oxidation amber covers itself with patina. Its thickness sometimes reaches some millimeters.
Amber is resistant to non-oxidizing chemicals and organic solvents. It melts being soaked in methyl alcohol (of 11,3%), turpentine (of 16,9%), ether (of 18.8%), acetone (of 23.3%). Chemical composition of the Baltic amber (succinct) is: 78.55% of coal C, 9.64% of hydrogen H, 11,81% of oxygen O. There is 3-8% of amber acid (C4H6O4) in succinct.
The most effective method of investigating fossil resin is infrared spectroscopy. It helps to identity succinct quite precisely and to distinguish it from other fossil resins.

 

 

 

  © Lietuvos dailės muziejus,                                                                                                                                                          Atnaujinta  2010.07.13
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