How to Polish Baltic Amber

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Although amber is used in jewelry in the same way stones like diamonds and emeralds are, Baltic amber is softer and more brittle than those types of jewels. It is not a mineral at all, but a fossilized tree sap or resin. Baltic amber is not only one color either. It ranges from pale yellows and browns to whites and greens to mixed colors.

Things You'll Need

  • Power belt sander
  • Sanding belt
  • Sand paper (medium grit)
  • Sand paper (fine grit)
  • Cotton buffing wheel
  • Buffing compound
  • Power-sand the amber to round the sharpest edges and create the final shape you want for your piece, such as a cabochon, teardrop or square.

  • Sand the surface with 80- to 160-grit sandpaper to smooth the texture.

  • Sand the entire surface with a fine-grade sandpaper to remove the rougher scratches made by the lower-grade sanding paper.

  • Use a cotton buffing wheel with a finishing compound to complete the shine on the finished piece of amber. Apply the compound to the piece of amber and polish the whole piece, removing the last of the scratches. Repeat with more compound if you need to. If you find spots that need more work after you finish this step, go back to a rougher sanding and work up to this step again.

  • Polish a finished piece of Baltic amber by using a soft cloth and lukewarm water. You can also use a bit of olive oil and a soft cloth to clean and return the finished shine to the polished piece after you have washed it off. Rub the oil over the amber and wipe off the excess.

Tips & Warnings

  • Baltic amber is a very soft material. It can chip and break when you work with it. It can also discolor if you use a strongly colored polishing compound when buffing it.
  • Amber can be hand-sanded if you prefer working with your hands and choose not to use power tools. However, this method will take longer than power sanding.
  • Be careful when working with sanding and buffing wheels. Hold the piece you are working on tightly and down at the bottom of the wheel so it is less likely to grab the piece and throw it or catch your fingers.

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