Vibrational spectroscopic analysis of an amber necklace—a forensic historical study

Edwards, Howell G. M.
August 2010
Analytical & Bioanalytical Chemistry;Aug2010, Vol. 397 Issue 7, p2677
Academic Journal
The vibrational infrared spectroscopic analysis of an important historical necklace of 102 beads that are purported to be made of amber indicated strong signal characteristics of cellulose nitrate with dark green-coloured areas of a naphthylamine dye. Confocal Raman depth-profiling spectroscopy using a 785-nm laser excitation, a novel application first applied here for the analysis of inclusions in amber resin, confirmed that the beads were amber resin and that residues of cellulose nitrate, camphor plasticiser and a naphthylamine dyestuff were present in surface cracks and inclusions in the bead matrix. The bead stringing material was confirmed as cellulose, which was stained green in part with the dyestuff. Comparison of the Raman spectra of the amber beads with a resin database suggested that the amber was sourced from Northern England. The scientific evidence supports the stylistic opinion that the necklace is an important example that could date from the 19th Century and that efforts had been made to coat it with a synthetic dyed polymer; this provides a rather unusual example of the chemical masking of a genuine article—a procedure that renders the article of particular interest.


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