Tips for Properly Polishing Amber
Gorgeous amber is a beautiful stone to craft intricate pieces of jewelry from. Knowing how to properly polish it and work with it is essential for making the one-of-a-kind pieces you desire. If it’s your first time crafting with amber, there are some things you should know before you get started.
1. It’s soft and can be easily damaged
Handling amber with care is a must to avoid unwanted etches. It’s soft because it’s organic fossilization of tree resin, but the good news is you can easily polish it in case you do cause it some damage. Polishing amber stones are easy! That being said though, dropping it on concrete or ceramic flooring can cause shattering to occur so be careful!
2. Keep it out of direct sunlight
Preserve your amber by keeping it out of direct sunlight for long periods of time. Longer exposures can result in evaporation. With exposure to strong UV light, it can be refused to powder in only a week’s time. Store it in a container with a soft-lining to keep it safe, and be sure to wax it every 6 months with a silicone-based wax to keep up its immaculate shine and prevent it from oxidation.
3. Use a circular saw
For sawing, a circular saw will be the best to work with when it comes to amber. You must have a gentle yet firm touch. You can use a fine-toothed saw too, but it’s very time-consuming and is more difficult to get a straight cut.
4. Or try a sanding wheel
A sanding wheel or belt is great for shaping your amber into the size and shape you desire. The course grade wheel and belt are best to remove it easily while the fine grade is ideal for the finish. You may also want to do this by hand by polishing amber with sandpaper, but again, this is a much slower process than using power tools. Intricate carvings can be rendered accurately and speedily with a Dremel-type tool.
It’s also important to remember that amber will warm up a bit during sanding and buffing, but it’s nothing to worry about if it’s a solid and authentic piece. If it’s soft-grade though, you should think about using water as a coolant when working with a sanding wheel.
5. Touch-up roughness with a cotton buffing wheel
Once you’ve sanded your amber down, your surface will probably still feel rough. Final polishing can be best accomplished with a cotton buffing wheel. Just make sure to hold the piece tightly to prevent mishaps.
6. Use quality polish
In addition to using a buffing wheel to get that smooth, polished finish, use a high-quality polish and keep adding it in a consistent manner. Centrifugal disc finisher and vibratory finishing work great for polishing amber stones, but don’t choose a neutral-colored polishing compound as it could discolor the surface of your amber piece. Avoid any polish that has alcohol, acetone, or chloroform as amber is soluble in them.
Additionally, when it comes to keeping your amber polished, never use a jewelry machine or steam cleaner as they can cause damage. A warm water solution with mild soap will do the trick. Add it to a container and then place the amber inside it, allowing it to sit for no more than 10 minutes. Dry it with a soft cloth made of flannel or other non-abrasive fabric. Olive oil is also a gentle and effective way to polish your amber.
7. Handle small pieces like a pro
Little bits and fragments of amber can be hard to handle. You can easily get them up with double-sided tape. Put it on your fingertip and gently press it upon your piece of amber, moving it all around slowly to clean it off.
8. The Dremel tool is great for drilling
If you want to add a hole to your piece of amber, the Dremel tool is the best choice. Be gentle yet firm and make sure you have it aligned perfectly.
9. Take care of your finished amber piece
As amber is a form of tree resin and soluble by certain chemicals, you’ll want to care for it once your piece is finished. This means keeping perfume and hairspray from having direct contact with it. They can steal the shine from it permanently. Remove your amber bracelets or rings before cooking or cleaning too as the household materials you use for these ordinary activities can ruin your amber. Extreme temperatures can also be damaging so use caution. Remember that polishing amber jewelry is a must for keeping up its quality and shine.
10. Keep it separated
Since amber isn’t an actual stone, it won’t be as stable as any other gems you have in your jewelry box. It’s softer and more prone to scratches so keep it stored in a separate compartment from other jewelry to ensure it stays pristine. It’s a good idea to wrap it up in a soft cloth or pouch and keep it in a separate jewelry box.
Fun Facts About Amber
Do you know everything there is to know about amber? Here are some fast facts about your favorite stone!
– It’s been around for thousands of years
Amber has been used for decorating palaces as well as for healing. Many cultures believe it has magical powers.
– It comes in colors
You can find amber in other colors besides yellow. There’s an opaque amber which looks a bit creamy. There’s a marble amber too that has natural patterns that are incredibly unique.
– And “dragon blood” is most revered
There’s a special red amber, sometimes called cherry amber, referred to as dragon blood. Throughout history, it has been considered precious and rare. You may also find dark brown amber or black amber.
– Green amber is rarest of all
Perhaps the most sought-after is the elusive green amber. It’s so rare though that most people don’t realize it’s not a fake or mistake it for something else entirely.