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Dear Friends of Crystalworks,
 


While contemplating what mineral best captured the essence of November, we were inspired by the colours of fall…  warm tones of Amber, gold, brown and red falling from the trees and decorating the ground. Naturally the “mineral” we decided upon for this month was Amber. Amber, However is actually not  a mineral and is not really a stone either, It is is the hard translucent fossilized resin produced by extinct coniferous trees of the Tertiary period. It is typically yellowish in color, though it can be red or brown or even in some very rare cases has a blue or green cast.  According to experts in order for it to qualify as Amber, the material must be over 10 million years old, and contain succinic acid, otherwise it is known as Copal. Copal can be as young as a few hundred years and is not as nearly as durable as amber.


Amber originates in many parts of the world, Baltic amber is perhaps the best known and is mostly a yellow or brownish tone. Our favorite Amber, however, comes from a mine in Chiapis Mexico that was mined by the Olmec people going back over 1000 years. The amber from this site is 25 to 30 million years old. It can be gold, yellow or red or sometimes has the green cast that is actually an illusion and When it is put under short wave black light it displays fluorescence!!!
 

Over the years, true amber has become more rare. Synthetic amber has become more prevalent, often found in jewelry and beads. To see if an amber bead is real or plastic, heat a needle red hot and touch it to the inside of the hole. Real amber will smell like amber, and plastic will smell like plastic though it will take a while for the plastic to melt and the odor to emerge. Another test done can be done with a medium sized bowl and 7 teaspoons of salt. Stir the salt until it is dissolved, wait 30 minutes and stir again. Drop the piece of the material you are testing into the twice stirred salty solution.  Amber will float while most synthetics will sink. Some old “African” beads look just like amber but they are Bakelite and are indeed old. Bakelite is is one of the original plastics and is actually quite valuable. If you do the red hot pin test after a while you’ll smell the unmistakable odor of plastic. Many of the African trade beads are called African Amber or African Copal which tends to be a code word for Bakelite.
Amber is a wonderful stone for carvings and is a lovely stone to wear. It is very light and said to be protective for a traveler.

 

 UPCOMING EVENTS 
Crystalworks is pleased to announce our annual HOLIDAY SALE.  Everything in the gallery will be 20-40% off beginning NOVEMBER 28TH and running through January 2016!  To celebrate the beginning of the Holiday Season and our winter sale we are having a PARTY!!! Please come down to the Gallery on November 28th from 1pm-8pm and enjoy some goodies, door prizes and an additional 10% off on that day!

Additionally on November 28th Crystalworks Welcomes the Chemical Institute of Canada’s national Crystal Growing Competition. (www.chemistry.ca/outreach/crystal-growing-competition) At the local level the Institute organizes teachers/students to take part in the event. The best crystals get sent to Ottawa for the national judging. In previous years the judging was held at Science World. This year Crystalworks Gallery is proud to host this event and participate in judging starting at noon on Nov. 28th.  It should be noted these particular crystals are “man made,” and this competition will be one of the only times one will most likely see  “man made” crystals in the gallery.


 

Copyright © 2015 Crystalworks Designs Ltd., All rights reserved.


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