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How Much is Amber Worth? Costs per Carat and More!

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If you’re uncertain about the worth of a piece of amber jewelry or a raw amber stone, or if you’re trying to determine the value of a specimen you’ve obtained, you’re not alone in facing this challenge. Assessing the value of an amber specimen can be quite complex. In this article, I’ll explore all the steps required to evaluate an amber specimen.

Amber can be sold for anywhere from 1$-30$ per carat. If it has an inclusion, it will be higher on this scale. By color, generally, they are ranked from less to more valuable: black, red, yellow/gold, and white. The region also plays a role: Baltic, Ukrainian, Russian, Dominican, and Mexican amber are all special types, ranked in that order from high to low value.

When determining the value of amber, the usual jeweler’s rule of thumb, known as the “4 C’s,” doesn’t quite apply. This is because amber is not a mineral but rather petrified organic matter. By the end of this article, you’ll have a good grasp of how to assess the worth of any piece of amber.

How Much is Amber Worth? The Real Value of Amber Gemstone
How Much is Amber Worth? The Real Value of Amber Gemstone

If you want to check out beautiful amber rocks, you can find them here (Amazon link).

Raw Amber Stones Value

Raw amber pricing differentiates itself from other raw minerals because of a few distinct qualities: its relative softness, the areas where you can find it, and its organic matter properties.

Raw amber with inclusions will always be more valuable than others, but raw amber pricing generally follows the pricing scheme of processed amber, demanding anywhere from $0.50-$25 per carat. This is because Amber’s workability allows easy and cheap processing. It may have more imperfections if found in the sea, decreasing the value.

Amber has a hardness of 2-2.5. This means that it’s about the same hardness as your fingernail. As you can imagine, if you can scratch a gem with your fingernail, it’s relatively easy to carve and shape with commonplace tools such as a Dremel or even sandpaper.

Processing this stone generally includes shaping it into a round shape to use as a bead or center stone in jewelry.

This property contributes to raw amber being widely sold; while you can still find processed amber, it comes at a much smaller premium than other gemstones typically achieve.

Amber has a long history. Understanding this history is key to understanding the value of a specimen because amber partially derives its value from its history.

You may have been intrigued by Amber in the movie Jurassic Park. If you were, you wouldn’t be alone – this movie greatly impacted the amber industry.

This blockbuster increased the demand for amber inclusions such as mosquitos and other bugs, and these could be worth $40/carat or even more if the specimen is clear and intact.

The movie also taught me a little about history. Amber is the petrified resin of mainly deciduous or coniferous trees from 30 million years ago.

Because it’s so sticky, it is easy for small insects to get stuck and then trapped for eternity as this material dies. This little fact does make it more intriguing material, doesn’t it?

Like the formation process of many gems, this process informs an astute rockhound on where to find the material. Ancient forests around the Baltic Sea and the Dominican Republic are famed areas where amber can be found.

However, surprisingly, an area that can be even denser with amber is not the forest – it’s the beach. This is an entirely different category of amber, called sea amber, which has traveled from areas that were once forests through the sea to a coastline.

The cost of sea amber can be slightly less than that of amber found underground or on land – this is because the water can degrade the material to be less pure, more opaque, and have more imperfections.

BTW: Do you want to know more about rock and mineral identification? The books listed below are the best ones you can find on the internet (Amazon links):

Which Color of Amber is Most Valuable?

The variance in the trees, climate, and other conditions in which the amber was formed caused the change in the material’s color. Because these attributes are region-specific, amber color and origin usually go together. For this reason, experts typically specify amber according to the region it came from.

Putting aside the value of inclusions, demand for amber color varies wildly yearly. White and red are the rarest, contributing to their value, but white is achieving up to $11 per carat in the current market. Gold/yellow Baltic amber is the classic variety, and because of its history, this type can achieve up to $14/carat without inclusions.

Below are the current price ranges for different types of amber. Remember that these are just benchmarks – quality (discussed in the next section), shape, and transparency all play different roles in modifying this price.

For more current info, Amazon (Amazon link) has a breadth of material from which you can get a relatively good idea if you’re careful!

VarietiesPrice [$/carat]
Baltic Amber2-14
Russian Amber2-12
Red (Cherry) Amber3-6
Black (Dominican) Amber1-4
White Amber9-11
Amber with Inclusions15-30
Worth of different colors of amber

Specifics of the Varieties

Baltic amber is the classic variety of amber. It can be found in Greece, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Russia, and other countries in the Baltic region on the beach or underground in forest areas.

It can be any shade of yellow, from transparent butter color to deep cloudy honey-gold and everything in between. As a rule, transparent stones have more value than their opaque counterparts, and the darker gold colors sell for more than lighter yellow ones.

Russian amber is also Baltic amber, holding the same gold color. The main source is a mine in Kaliningrad, and its price and features are very similar to those found in Greece and Ukraine.

Cherry amber is rare – some sources estimate that this type of amber constitutes 1%-5% of all amber found worldwide. Currently, demand for it is relatively low. However, it’s worth having, especially if it’s clear and includes an interesting inclusion.

White amber, also called bone amber, is often found in the Dominican and Baltic regions. It’s also a rare type and sometimes takes on a similar look to ivory.

Surprisingly, amber can also be blue or green (interestingly, from contact with plants during the hardening process).

Because this is not a widely recognizable color but is quite rare, the value of these colored stones varies widely. For these, the value highly depends on other qualities such as its cut, clearness, and even its setting.

TIP: Amber gemstones can often be found on the beaches. Do you know what gemstones come from the ocean? There are plenty of amazing gemstones that come from the ocean, for example, pearls. Find out more in the article below:
Which Gemstones Come From The Ocean? Corals, Pearls & more!

What Makes Amber More Valuable?

Inclusions, transparency, roundness, smoothness, the rarity of the color, and the region’s fame all contribute to making an amber specimen more valuable. If it has an inclusion, an intact inclusion will fetch a higher price – up to $30 per carat or more. Popular and more valuable inclusions currently are mosquitos, butterflies, and flies.

Inclusions

Inclusions are a characteristic attribute of amber. Though the popular inclusions are insects, you can also find fish bones, worms, and plants inside.

Inclusions allude to a long history and pique the viewer’s curiosity – which is valuable in a gemstone. In any amber specimen, inclusion, clarity, and roundness are paramount so as not to impede the view of this piece of history.

Some of the inclusions can more than triple the value of your amber sample. It’s not only intriguing, but it’s also incredibly valuable for researchers studying the world as it once was. Small amber samples with inclusions are reliable at $30-$40; bigger ones can be over $100.

Inclusions are also a tribute to the sincerity of a sample because it’s very hard to reproduce such a form. However, there are many popular methods to fake an amber look.

You’ll want to be sure to look out for these if you’re buying amber and be aware of them if you’re pricing it.www

TIP: Do you know the most common sights of valuable rocks and minerals? Find out more in the article below:
6 Signs That a Rock Is Valuable + Examples & Location Tips

Fakes and Treatments

The most popular of these, widely used in beads for bracelets or necklaces, is the ambroid. This is a composition of many small amber pieces glued together, heating the material to 150-300 degrees C.

These specimens tend to age into a darker/browner, undesirable shade. To test for this fake, look at the specimen in a microscope.

The next most popular alteration is heat treatment. This is usually used to darken the color (recall golden amber is more valuable than yellow). Heat treatment is so common that it isn’t usually considered a faking process but a way to increase the value.

Jewelers are still morally obliged to tell you about any alterations to a piece of jewelry so that you can make your judgment. Do not be afraid to ask – it is a very typical question for a jeweler.

This typical treatment is worth some money for most. Processed and treated amber set by an expert in stylish jewelry can go for $200/carat.

Another attribute to remember when evaluating amber is its extremely low density. It is rare, but this stone is less dense than saltwater – making a carat much bigger than a carat of diamond, ruby, or other recognizable stones. Do not let any sellers or buyers fool you into underestimating this fact!

TIP: Amber fakes are very diverse. Real amber is an organic gemstone, so there is another way to spot amber fakes. Find out more about fake ambers in the article below:
Real vs. Fake Amber: 9 Key Differences & UV Light Testing

Tests for Value

You can also use this to test an amber for authenticity, which is especially useful for rarer varieties and colors. Just put it in salt water to see if it floats! (Plastic will typically sink). Another test comes from ancient times.

For ages, Amber has been burned for its melancholy and thoughtful scent and is still an ingredient in popular incense varieties today. Rub the specimen until it gets warm in this test, and see if you can detect this scent!

Conclusion

In conclusion, the value of amber can range anywhere from one dollar to thirty dollars per carat or more, depending on the color. Consider the presence of inclusions, clarity, and shape to distinguish your specimen from others in the same category.

Make sure you are familiar with the treatment history of an amber and always have some tools (and the knowledge to evaluate them) on hand to guarantee that the amber is authentic.

TIP: Amber gemstones are formed by the fossilization of the resin of trees. Fossilization is not the only formatting process of rocks. The other is petrification. Find out the difference between these two formatting processes in the article below:
The Difference Between Fossilization and Petrification