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Original Message:   For comparison - a recent "cherry amber" polyester bead
First photo - a quick glance made me think this was carved phenolic. Actually a 3.5" ball rather than a bead - has the 12 zodiac signs. After I realized it was new, I found many copies on eBay, some claiming to be real amber, for less than $30.

Second photo - the line where the two halves were joined is clearly visible. Close inspection at the right hand end of the line shows where the designs on the two halves don't quite match up.

Unless I inspect a plastic bead and do a few tests, it's very hard to tell what plastic was used.

I will say this about the Chinese "cherry amber" beads like yours though - it seems like there are "enough" of them on sale on eBay at any given time to make me suspect that some of them, at least, are recent production, probably from polyester resin. Could be that a mold was made from some hand-carved beads, then new ones were made from the mold(s). "Prices taking a downturn" makes me suspicious... OTOH all of them may be old phenolic.

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