As much as it would seems obvious, ”Quality” is still a debated subject, regardless the context. Definitions abound, especially in business: according to ISO 9000 it’s a ‘degree to which a set of inherent characteristic fulfills requirements.’ The American Society for Quality elegantly sidesteps the question by defining it as: ‘A subjective term for which each person has their own definition.’
It all boils down to the perception of the degree to which a product meets a customer’s expectations.
Hence ‘Quality’ in its purest definition is entirely perceptual, conditional and somewhat subjective.
Philosopher Robert M. Pirsig even elevated ‘quality’ to a metaphysical concept that cannot be defined because it empirically precedes any intellectual constructions.
The same holds true for Blue Amber quality.
At first glance one would assume that the more blue a stone is, the higher the quality. The more it reflects the sunlight as the color blue, the higher the grade.
But as the various interpretations above point out, quality cannot be defined since everyone has his own definition based on use and personal perception.
As the age-old axiom states, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
And, oddly enough, it also depends on nationality.
On some continents for example the more popular coloration is the yellow/light-blue variation that focuses more on transparency and pureness in addition to a bluish hue as can be seen in the image. Now, this is contradictive, because the more inclusions it holds, the stronger the color reflection. In spite of this fact, it is the unique glassy look that appeals in some cultures. To them inclusions are not wanted at all and considered impurities.
But you can’t compare amber to other gemstones that ought to be flawless. In those you will never find a feather, or a scorpion or a flower, not even a spider or an ant. So, are inclusions good or bad? It depends on how they are placed and what they do to the stone. These and other characteristics of amber are different from other gemstones.
A renowned scientist, Prof. Dr. Mark R. Mayer comments: “First of all, beware of pieces that are too uniform or too perfect. Amberization involves processes that result in imperfection in pieces, imperfections that often give amber its personality. So, bubbles, plant debris, clouds, inner layers, cracks and fissures, insect parts, opacities, swirls and stress lines are present to some degree in most pieces and can help verify authenticity. Beware, for example, of a necklace of perfectly matched, transparent beads — that would be most unlikely.”
Therefore, Baltic amber producers artificially cause discoidal fissures or sun spangles with droplets of trapped water and air by heating their amber to make those look like natural inclusions as a proof of authenticity. They know that for many, inclusions and variations of color are a proof of genuineness. Because when it looks like plastic or glass or cheap color enhanced amber… it probably is.
In some parts of the world, the color variation mostly desired is the strong, dark blue and definite color. Blue amber ought to be blue.
As we know, this is due to the density of the aromatic molecules in the resin.
But again, it also is emphasized by the inclusions which already reflect the light inside the amber. In this case, the inclusions are desirable.
In the case of specimens and rough amber other quality criterias are the form of the specimen, the size, the thickness of the hull and its color, the mine of origin, the age, and so on and so forth.
Hence, what is top quality blue amber?
For some it means that it should be dark and blue, with lots of inclusions that give a strong color.
For some that it is pure and without inclusions and with an elegant hue of blue.
And for others it means that the design is great and the inclusions are interesting.
So, to say it short and sweet, the expression “top quality blue amber” is relative. It really depends on everyone’s own taste, opinion or purpose he has for it. Therefore, when it comes down to it, quality is your choice.
Of course, blue amber has to be blue. Lately there is “HIGHEST GRADE DOMINICAN BLUE AMBER” being offered on cheap sale pages, like eBay and the sort. Just have in mind, if an offer is too good to be true, it usually is. Be aware that there is a difference between the amber quality you get from different mines in the shades of color. Make sure you buy blue as blue, green as green and brown as brown. Don’t get the wool pulled over your eyes. Therefore, make sure you buy from a solid source.