About Sea Glass

About Sea Glass

This is a short, I hope informative review of Sea Glass. I have summarized sea glass information to tell you where it comes from, and why it has it’s value and a following of interested lovers of the beach and ocean for years.

It is in our nature to love the ocean, and the beach. We go to the seashore to relax, enjoy and recharge – and it seems that everyone spends time walking along the shore and looking at what the ocean has washed up. It is in our nature to pick up pretty things, and people collect seashells and of course sea glass from the beach, and always will.

If you want to know more about sea glass and its history, much more information is available on line and in books. I recommend “Pure Sea Glass – Discovering Nature's Vanishing Gems” by Richard LaMotte which you can find easily through Amazon or your local bookstore, and which I have used for some of the interesting facts below.

The sea glass used in jewelry making is the best of the examples of all colors and types found. Sea Glass is a product of glass discarded into the ocean years ago as trash by mankind. Most of the sea glass we find has been in the ocean for 30 to 50 plus years of weathering and wearing. The true real sea glass is often referred to as “real” “authentic” and “genuine” to distinguish it from man made substitutes sometimes offered today, which have little or no value (just like faux everything else, yes there are people making faux sea glass).

To select jewelry quality sea glass we look for the best well worn pieces  - and most of the glass found on the beach does not make the grade - - less finished pieces are returned back into the ocean for more processing time!

True – real – pure sea glass is a result of the constant wearing of sand and stone in the ocean, plus the PH of the water reacting chemically over a long period of time, to produce an evenly worn piece with a somewhat “hydrated” corroded surface. Weathering actually dissolves some of the silica and lime making up the glass itself and hydrates the glass surface, pitting and wearing it and producing the characteristic frosted look over time. Wearing and washing of the sand and rock shore produces the rest.

Some fresh water glass can resemble sea glass from the ocean due to similar conditions, but some other fresh water glass from rivers and lakes will show little or no wear after many years - particularly in mud bottom areas with little wave action. Fresh water or beach glass can be very little frosted or worn, and so less interesting to the collector, jeweler or buyer.

Authentic Sea Glass itself is a limited, and maybe vanishing resource. Those who have studied sea glass believe that it takes at least 20 to 30 years - often more - typically for the ocean to produce a prime piece of sea glass, well conditioned with rounded worn edges, and weathered by the PH of the water – it doesn’t take much further thought to see that today times have changed – and we are no longer discarding glass in the amounts of past years. Recycling today removes glass which would have gone into the ocean in the past. Much less dumping in the ocean will continue over time (rightfully of course for our use of natural resources) – to reduce sea glass and make it more and more rare on the beaches.

Sea Glass Colors

Most sea glass we find today dates from glass discarded in the first half of the 20th century. The color range of course follows the percentages of colors found in the glass made typically during that time, so that some colors are much more unusual than others. Of all sea glass found on the beach most is not suitable for jewelry, only the best one to five percent of what is found may be good enough to use.

Much of what is found is green, brown or white, normally nine of every ten pieces of sea glass are the more typical shades of these three colors.

Less common colors are found occasionally - such as soft greens and blues, jade and lime green, forest green and amber brown tones. These uncommon pieces make up the last one in ten found. The odds of even rarer colors showing up are more like one in 200, 500, 1000 or more.

Rare and extremely rare colors are the first prize winners for a days hunting on the beach. Rare colors like cornflower and cobalt dark blue, purples and pink and aqua, and opaque white are only occasionally found. Extremely rare colors show up every now and then, and most often in smaller pieces well ground down by time. Orange, Red, Black, Teal Green, Gray, Turquoise and Yellow are extremely rare, simply because little was produced and discarded.

Some of the colors are rare or very rare, yet not thought of as a color well suited for jewelry such as the opaque white, gray or black. Collectors prize such pieces, jewelry makers not so much. Any piece of high quality and well worn sea glass is a prize for the jewelry maker. Some colors just make them more so.

Faux and Man Made imitation glass.

All I can say here, is watch for it. Faux is present everywhere in our life, and generally the honest merchant will tell you clearly if what you are buying is a man made faux product. If it’s not absolutely clear, ask.

Tell tale indications are very even wear, pieces with less surface pitting and patina. The faux product is produced by tumbling and/or acid washing and the edges are sharper and less rounded, the wear pattern very even and appearance entirely different, the glass looks "sanded". Another indication is a lot of perfectly matched sizes  and inexpensive products in what would be rare colors if real. Like most imitation products it really looks very little like the real thing when examined, and carries none of the intrinsic value of the genuine. Enough said !

We hope you enjoy our website, and our selection. All sea glass we use is the real, true, genuine item.