Recently one of our clients came across a black bracelet and was told that what he was buying was a high-resin agarwood beads.
After making some offers, he got the bracelet home and asked us to verify. Without mentioning the price, we started our process:
1) Smell and appearance
If the product is genuine, you would be able to detect the natural fragrance wood. If you discover any unusual scent, for example, alcoholic, or chemical scent, this indicates a possible counterfeit item.
Genuine agarwood beads usually ARE NOT SOLID in colour, especially black. Simple fact, Agarwood beads are made from wounded Aquilaria tree which contains white fibre and infected wood. It might be argued that the beads were made purely with the infected part but it is obviously not true. Below pictures show how resins are located within the wood.
The value of the agarwood beads lies on the resin (more resin, more expensive) as it might take decades to form for the sinking grade. With good grade, you could detect the scent of it at room temperature.
Agarwood log: there are some white fibre in the peripheral area as well as some dark resinous parts which take years or decades to form. Hence it would be unwise to make beads out of it (.... and it is not enough material to make it anyway). Below are pictures of cultivated and wild agarwood log:
(Image from Google, cultivated agarwood )
(Source: our own agarwood hunters)
Cutting log into square beads size before filing rounding and polishing
The most resinous part was taken out to make beads leaving the "frame" who has lesser value as below
(Source: from our own agarwood hunter, Borneo agarwood)
( This quality log would be good for chips, incenses, oil or 108 mala beads as its consistant patent)
From the above logs, there is no part which is 100% black or brown in colour hence so the agarwood beads.
Any beads which are solid in colour are injected with agarwood oil and other spice to create a good fragrance, hence, there is little value on its.
Below are white wood with small infection compared to resinous beads. Please look at the pattern
Boil the water, quickly submerge a bead into it in 30 seconds and observe, if the water start changing its colour slightly (if you boil any wood, the water texture would change anyway), that is fine, but NOT IN BLACK, what you need to see is whether there is any of other appearance
Melted substance (mainly mix with oil and other unknown substance)
Chop the beads in half, you would be able to detect shiny vein, turn the beads up and down and move slightly
(oil-injected A quilaria Crassna using high pressure, no shiny vein is detected - image courtesy Tram Huong Viet)
( image courtesy Tram Huong Viet , Plain A quilaria Crassna without infection, not agarwood)
Young genuine agarwood beads with small amount of resin, if you look closely, you can see some shiny veins which oil-injected bead does not carry.
The above picture was taken from our super agarwood bracelets, they were chopped in half, boiled in water. If the beads are fake, it would not have this look. The paper tower absorbed the water and there is no change in colour.
3) Under microscope or magnifier
The bead below shows moderate resin (agarwood) without any artificial dying colour/agent. The pattern are natural and random.
Genuine agarwood beads should look similar or better (with more "resin line). Any solid colour beads are tampered with dying agent might not be genuine agarwood as this act ruined the fragrance of it.
For high grade agarwood beads, watch out for trick like lead or iron injection into beads to increase weight
( picture above shows an attempt to deceive the weight by iron insertion for sinking grade).
Agarwood beads apperarance
1) Low resin mala beads 7mm
2) High resin mala beads 7mm
Online sellers often claim that their beads are NATURAL, GENUINE beads, terms like "black agarwood/ eaglewood" rare are used frequently. Here is an example:
More agarwood beads claimed, but they turn out counterfeit item
Too black and shiny, and heavy feel. There is limited grain (pattern or infected area)
The below image confirmed it is definitely non-agarwood beads as it is dyed with colour
Please compare to the genuine beads below
Updated on 27/09/2016
We are very proud to carry on this business from our grandparents hence never supplied any inferior product if in doubt.
Here is the basic and also the most popular pattern of agarwood beads, by learning the genuine one, you could tell the counterfeit apart. The below was sold at circa $1200 AUD
We have consulted several clients for genuine agarwood patterns and recently come across a few buaya or crocodile agarwood (this specie is completely different from Thymelaeaceae family, the genus Gyrinops and Aquilaria). Below are pictures that claimed genuine agarwood but made from "buaya",
Buaya: crocodile agarwood. hardwood, with resin, smell is not as good as agarwood.
Essential oil distilled from it giving white cloudy colour. There is nothing wrong with this wood as it made beautiful wooden beads. Unscrupulous sellers inflate its price or tell consumers it is agarwood
Buaya beads: please note, in Hongkong and China, these beads (buaya) are being sold as agarwood. PLEASE BEWARE
The resin formed is not one of agarwood pattern
If in doubt, carry a magnifier: you would see similar pattern to wood chip containing oi pore and long shape island (resin), unevenly oval or elliptically long and evenly distributed.. These are the unique features of Aquilaria species.
For example, please see the below beads, it shows that beads'pattern is made from the young or early infected area,
For GENUINE AGARWOOD BEADS, PLEASE VISIT OUR COLLECTION HERE
If you saw a 2-polar beads, it is very likely made from cultivated agarwood as below image
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