Last updated on May 8th, 2023 at 11:12 am
Amber is considered an organic gem. Unlike crystal gems that form under great pressure and in extreme heat, such as aquamarine or diamond, amber is a product of hardened tree sap.
While a diamond will be worth more if it is pure or has few flaws, amber is actually more valuable if it contains contaminants, also known as inclusions.
Inclusions such as bug body parts and wings, plant matter, and oxygen bubbles actually make amber more valuable.
How Much Is Amber Worth?
Inclusions, color, transparency, and smoothness, are all factors that affect the price of amber. On average, amber can range in price from $5 to $90 per carat or $25 to $450 per gram.
Certain inclusions can actually raise the cost of amber up to $30 or $40 per carat.
Because amber forms from an organic material, it is not naturally faceted.
A qualified gemologist can cut facets into amber, but it won’t split when struck with something sharp or hard like a non-organic mineral will.
If you are interested in working with raw amber, the primary factor to consider is heat.
When warmed, amber softens. If you want to cut a piece of amber and pass a chain or other jewelry findings through it, take care to avoid overheating the stone.
You can sand or polish amber; just remember to take plenty of breaks so you don’t overheat the piece.
Gold amber is the most common version found by amber harvesters and can be purchased for $5 per carat, or $25 per gram.
If you find raw gold amber and want to cut your own gems, look for inclusions within the raw gem so you can feature those imperfections in your final gem.
Because amber is so sensitive to heat, it is one of the few gems that can grow more beautiful with hand polishing.
Machine cutting may be a challenge, but hand sanding and polishing can actually turn your amber item into a one-of-a-kind piece that you can shape as you hand sand it.
Red amber is also fairly easy to find and will run about $6 per carat, or $30 per gram. The key to finding more valuable red amber is to use the darkest piece of the gem when creating your final piece.
There are shades of red amber that actually read black. Paired against silver findings, your deepest red amber gems will be quite striking.
The only drawback to working with a deeply saturated red amber is that inclusions may be hard to spot.
If you are a fan of vintage jewelry, you may find pieces that contain red amber beads, which were quite popular in the middle of the 20th century.
Milky amber is quite striking in jewelry. Unlike rich, gold amber, milky amber is opaque because it is rich in oxygen bubbles.
Over time, milky amber in the wild will shift to gold as oxygen exposure is reduced due to the compression of the gem in the earth.
While pale golden milky amber is quite common, white amber is rare and worth more money.
A pure white amber stone can bring up to $11 per carat, or $55 per gram. Milky amber is worth less than half of that in the raw state; it will be similar in price to gold amber.
Green amber is less common than gold or milky amber. It gets a rich green color from contact with other plants as the resin hardens. Green amber is commonly rich in inclusions and bubbles.
Expect to pay up to $15 per carat or $75 per gram for green amber, especially if it contains inclusions.
Because green amber is more valuable by the carat, most finished pieces of this gem will be quite small.
You may also have good luck finding this gem paired as a bead with gold, red and milky amber.
Blue amber is the rarest amber gem. It is harvested in the Dominican Republic and can bring up to $450 per gram, or $90 per carat. Unless it’s backlit, blue amber is the traditional golden brown color.
However, in full sunlight, it is a lovely shade of blue.
Finding blue amber is quite difficult, even for a skilled amateur. If you’re interested in procuring this color of amber in a raw stone to work on, start with gold amber until you’re confident in your touch.
Check out gem dealers who sell raw stones. You may even want to take a class that offers instruction on shaping and polishing amber so you can actually handle this stone before you lay out cash for one.
Knowing how to recognize blue amber before you buy any is a good financial decision.
Care for Your Amber Jewelry
Generally, amber is set into silver findings. To keep your amber jewelry looking lovely, avoid exposing your amber to
- harsh soaps
- bumps and scrapes
Wash your amber jewelry in a very mild soap and dry it with a soft cloth. If your silver jewelry tends to tarnish, cleanse the silver with a tarnish-removing cloth instead of a chemical treatment to avoid damaging your amber gems.
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