On the site: http://www.chamberofcommerce.pl/about-amber-and-types-of-amber/ the Polish Chamber of Commerce (a private entity) writes that
“Copal is a young amber that comes from the Dominican Republic and its neighbors. …. Copal is younger than Baltic amber and has different characteristics because it is the product of different trees growing millions of years apart.”
This information is misleading and more than a bit tendentious.
Fact is: Most of the Dominican amber is AMBER (20 -40 million years old) and there has not been found amber or copal at all on the neighbor islands of the Dominican Republic, here in the Caribbean. See latest studies: New York Times, October 29, 2006 According to some researchers, “Baltic amber…was formed about 35,000,000 years ago” ( Free Organic Gems Magazine). So, what gives?
Yes, there is some Dominican Copal, (5 million to 18 million years old in the Cotui area) which also is found in small amounts on this Island. But because of the small quantity available, Dominican Copal has not been exported so far in larger amounts and is economically of no importance. But even that is hard enough to be polished to a brilliant shine on a felt wheel. (see: http://www.dominicancopal.com)
It is true that Dominican amber is resin from a different tree, the tropical Algarroba tree (hymenea protera). But some of these trees were rather contemporaneous with the Baltic amber trees. Much Dominican amber is not only of a similar age as Baltic amber but the only difference is the lack of succinic acid. For competitive reasons, this detail is being very much stressed by Baltic publicity. Neither does succinic acid make it more “amber” than the amber of other regions. But it has been suggested by scientists that succinic acid is not even an original component of amber, but a degradation product of abietic acid. (Rottlaender, 1970)
Interestingly, and it is an open secret, much copal that comes from Colombia is converted by some Polish and Lithuanian amber producers into “amber” .
Some public erroneous information on purpose to make Dominican Amber appear of less importance, others do it out ignorance and lack of serious research or for being just misinformed. But the facts are different. Scientists consider Dominican amber to be up to 40 mio years old.
40-Million-Year-Old Extinct Bee
Yields Oldest Genetic Material
Should anybody need more scientific information, there is much that can be provided.
We place a lot of value on the information conveyed on the site of the Polish Chamber of Commerce. It is one of the most honest sites about Polish amber. The writer of this blog is a member of the IAA (International Amber Association) and does respect and defend vehemently natural amber from the Baltic region.
But for fairness sake, this misleading misconception about Dominican Amber should be corrected as quickly as possible.