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FAKE AMBER FOSSIL INCLUSIONS

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FAKE AMBER FOSSIL INCLUSIONS

The faking of inclusions of amber has been a major cottage industry since the earliest times.  This perhaps reached its height in the early 1900’s and a major source was from New Zealand.  The North Island has some major deposits of Kaori Gum, and at the turn of the 19th century some was used to fake and imitate true amber.  The digging of Kaori Gum was such a major industry the workers even had their own newspaper; ‘The Gum Diggers Gazette’.

The Kaori Gum would be melted gently and suitable inclusions placed into the matrix, this was frequently some kind of colorful insect.  Color is always a dead give away of a bogus amber fossil.  Truly ancient amber fossils have no color pigmentation left at all and are usually monotone.  However, beetle color is often an effect of light refraction, i.e. the light being broken into its spectral elements, the resin however prevents this.  

One of the most clever methods employed involves the use of a true piece of amber.  The amber has a section cut from one end of the piece.  A hole was then drilled into the main block.  Inside this cavity was placed the animal which was in fact alive at the time of faking.  The creature was then surrounded by molten resin and the previously sawn off section placed back in position and glued with the same liquid resin.  The result is externally a perfect piece of amber which passed all tests for true amber.  

Since copal can be easily melted, one of the most prevalent scams to watch out for today is the creation of "rare inclusions" by drilling a piece of amber or copal, placing the object in the hole and filling with molten copal.  The surface is then ground and polished down to blend the side of the hole with the outer surface.  Fakes made in this manner using lizards, exotic insects, etc., have sold for thousands of dollars to unsuspecting collectors!  Use common sense.  If you see something that appears too good to be true, then it probably is.  Dishonest dealers have sold fake included copal and amber for thousands of dollars so do not let price alone, be your guide!


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