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
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!