Properties of Amber

by Manisha G

Lustre
Amber has resinous lustre. Some softer Dominican amber  is waxy. On exposure to air amber alters due to oxidation, Initially pale osseous amber acquires a thin clear layer like porcelain. Amber generally shows deterioration on surface to such an extent that the rusty-red crust crumbles away exposing a new surface which will undergo the same proc­ess. This is halted to a large extent if the amber is kept in dark damp surroundings like if they are buried in ground.

 
Colour
amber-coloursSemi-transparent to Opaque – white, lemon, golden, red brown, yellow, etc. Brown and virtually black varieties largely due to minerals like iron pyrites, sulphuric acid in solution, or included organic matters.
Clear-colourless, pale yellow, ‘sugar syrup’ to ‘rich sherry’, pale scarlet-red, bright red, deep red to almost black.
Very occasionally opaque or clear green. Blue amber (not fluorescent amber) is somewhat of a misnomer. This amber is a marginal blue or grey, between opaque amber and crystal of iron pyrites.
Great care should be taken with all opaque ambers of an unusual colour. On heating they often become clear golden in tone. This effect is irreversible.

 
Fluorescence
amber-fluorescenceMany ambers fluoresce naturally under daylight, espe­cially when freshly extracted. This effect appears to diminish with time, which exhibit colours fluorescence : deep blue, blue, purple and green. This fluorescence is seen by reflected light. Ambers generally show a strong-blue fluorescent bloom under ultraviolet illumination.

 
X-Rays
Amber is transparent to X-rays, but some crystalline components may give rise to diffraction patterns.

 
Static Electricity
Amber becomes negatively charged when rubbed, picks up small scraps of tissue paper, etc.

 
Thermal And Electrical Conductivity
Amber is a poor conductor of heat and electricity. Amber feels warm to the touch and is sometimes used as a thermal insulator.

 
Thermoplasticity
Amber melts at 350° – 380°C.

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