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Appearance, Uses and History
Copal is often described as ‘young Amber’ – it is in a state somewhere between being a ‘gummier’ resin and full hardness. This process is known as polymerisation.
Copal has been used for hundreds of years as a form of incense, although in more recent years it was used as a wood varnish.
One of the most popular forms of Copal is known as Kauri gum, from New Zealand. Collectors tend to be in two minds on Copal – on the one hand, a large piece with multiple inclusions is far cheaper than true Amber; but it is often missold as Amber!
Copal can occur in a wide range of locales, but some of the most popular collectors specimens are from Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Madagascar, or New Zealand.
Can be tested with a drop of acetone, which will make the surface tacky – whereas it will not affect Amber.
Photos of Copal
Hazards and Warnings
Almost all rocks, minerals (and, frankly, almost all other substances on earth) can produce toxic dust when cutting, which can cause serious respiratory conditions including silicosis.
When cutting or polishing rocks, minerals, shells, etc, all work should be done wet to minimise the dust, and a suitable respirator or extraction system should be used.
Mandarin and Traditional Chinese:
Further Reading / External Links