But is it Really Amber?
Angela Fisher's Africa Adorned says "True amber is the fossilized resin of pines and other conifers and may be as much as 60 million years old." Her book, and other "experts" discuss millions of years old Baltic Amber, 300,000 year old Copal from Zanzibar, and plastic fake amber that has been carved for the past 100 years.
A visit to the amber exhibit at The Bead Museum in Prescott, AZ, and a reading of Dr. Rice's book suggests that very little of the African "amber" is Baltic amber. Most is probably made in Europe and carved in Africa. Some may be African Copal resin ("young amber" from Zanzibar) formed into beads. Some may be a blend of natural and man made resins.
The beads sold as African "amber" may be phenolic plastic simulations of Amber. Strands often include a variety of beads which differ in composition and age. Occasionally we see older beads which look like they contain chips that look like baltic amber mixed into the plastic - much like a product used in bracelets in Russia and Poland today.
Occasionally we get strands of very expensive beads that are probably baltic amber. These buttery yellow beads are collected in Africa and Asia. Sometimes we get strands that are supposed to be Zanzibar copal.
The beads we sell, as far as we can tell, come from the countries described. We make no guarantees about these beads. We pick the strands we think to be the most attractive based on our own values and experience. We believe some of the beads to be much older than others. The strands we bought 15 years ago are different from most of the strands we can buy today. Some beads show considerable wear and abuse. Occasionally, beads have bright red spots and charred black sides where someone has tried to test the bead.