Friday, June 15, 2012

Sea Glass as a Collectible

Sea glass from a Long Island beach
Photo by Mark Epstein 

Sea glass is found on all the beaches in the world on oceans, bays, rivers, and even on large lakes where it has been tumbled or smoothed by the action of waves, running water and sand that creates smooth, frosted pieces of glass in a process akin to tumbling gemstones. These pieces of glass or often used for making handmade Jewelry.

Many people consider combing the shorelines for sea glass as a hobby to either simply collect, or make into jewelry as well as other decorative objects from their finds.


See glass is something that is found all over the world but there are some areas where it is more apt to collect than others. Among these places are the beaches of the northeastern United States, California, northwest England, Mexico, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Nova Scotia, Australia, Italy, and southern Spain. See glass is also found on the beaches of many of the largely to the world like the Great Lakes of North America, the Caspian Sea and other large in land areas of freshwater including the larger rivers. Many pieces of sea glass have their origin in the glass floats that are used by fishermen at the top of their nets. Most other pieces of sea glass are from broken bottles. In this last category you can also include broken pottery, and ceramics. Most of the sea glass is found during periods of low tide and especially a low tide after a large storm.

Many pieces of sea glass having their origin in inland waterways carries on it and embossed lettering that makes tracing its origins much easier than that found in the ocean. Because there are shards of glass broken for larger objects such as bottles or jars you can find sea glass that may be frosted on one side, and shiny on the other. Probably the reason for this they are pieces of a larger object that of the broken off while the object was still embedded in sand or mud that are being slowly exposed to the action of waves.


Among all the different colors of sea glass the rarest is red, cobalt blue glass is also very rare. The most common colors that are found are clear, Kelly green and brown. Although sea glass can have its origin in anything that has been made from glass most sea glass comes from broken bottles many of which held alcoholic beverages or soda. The rarest colors of all however are great, pink, teal, black, very dark olive green, yellow turquoise, red or from nautical lights that often tell the tale of the shipwreck somewhere on the world's oceans. You are apt to find one piece of glass in these colors for every 10,000 pieces of ordinary glass you find.

The Hobby

In many places especially in North America collecting sea glass also includes collecting sea shells, fossils or stones. There is even an association of collectors of sea glass called North American Sea glass Association that publishes a monthly newsletter about the hobby.

Artificial Sea Glass:

Real sea glass is now becoming harder to find for a number of reasons; there are more people searching for it; many glass items have been replaced by the use of plastic; and littering is increasingly discouraged for environmental reasons.

Many artisans have taken advantage of this situation by tumbling poorer pieces of sea glass shards creating what is called “twice-tossed” glass. Other people are making artificial sea glass engine colors that they call “craft glass” from ordinary pieces of broken glass. This kind of artificial sea glass meets the demand from crafters because it is available at a cheaper price and a wider range of colors.

For many collectors of sea glass the real issue is honesty about the source from where the glass came.


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