For example, a 600 000 year old piece of
Copal may not be as old as a 10 000 000 year old piece of amber,
but it might be more mature if it were exposed
to conditions in which it was polymerized to a greater extent
then the amber.
In terms of Amber versus Copal, the locality
in which the fossilized resin was discovered seems to used when
differentiating between Amber and Copal.
Generally, Copal is softer then Amber, and
tends to disintegrate in anoxic and luminescent environment much
faster then Amber, (probably due to the less polymerized state
of the resin structure)
In terms of linear age, Copal is generally
Late Tertiary to Quaternary in age whereas Amber is Carboniferous
to Middle Tertiary in age.
The Amber versus Copal issue is still a
heated debate among scientists and collectors alike. Often times
Copal is sold under the name of Amber, which often to the naked
eye looks just like Amber. A piece of Copal is much less costly
compared to a comparable piece of Amber and usually has many more
organic inclusions within. A person buying a piece of Copal, thinking
it is Amber may think that they are getting a good deal, when
in reality they are being swindled, (sometimes unintentionally
buy the dealer who is unaware that his/her Amber is really Copal).