Authentic Sea Glass vs. Tumbled Sea Glass

I wanted to write more about buying sea glass. Not because you shouldn’t do it, but because you should be cautious when you do it. Even if you’re buying a piece of jewelry, be aware that there are sellers who say they sell real sea glass when they don’t. And whether you’re buying jewelry or buying sea glass for jewelry making or crafting don’t think that you’re safe if you’re buying on sites like ebay or etsy, because you’re not.  When unscrupulous sellers are finally found out and turned into ebay or etsy they may be banned, but what about those who had bought before this?

The best way for you to protect yourself is to learn about sea glass. Visit websites that educate you about sea glass, and more importantly, visit sites that show you pictures of sea glass. If you can, look for sea glass on beaches or in rivers where you live. You don’t have to find lots of sea glass, just a few pieces. There is nothing like the real thing. Once you see and handle authentic sea glass you’ll have more of an idea what you’re looking for when shopping.

Another thing that you’ll start seeing when you learn about sea glass is that not all authentic sea glass is created equal. Some glass is more smoothed, rounded and frosted than others. Glass that has been exposed to salt water and tumbling in the surf tends to become frosted and smoothed and rounded.  Glass that has been in fresh water lakes or rivers, where there is no tumbling current will not be a well frosted, smoothed and rounded. You may find glass that seems raw, with sharp edges. Even this glass can be quite old. Often glass is buried in mud after things like floods. It can spend decades buried in the mud before it is exposed again after another flood. The picture below shows glass aged in the sea on the left and glass aged in a river on the right.

Sea Glass vs. River Glass
Most fake sea glass (also called tumbled) is very easy to spot. The first thing that should clue you in is color and pricing. You’ll see colors you rarely if ever see in natural glass, yellow, purple, pink, orange, reds, blues. If you are buying authentic sea glass in these colors it would be very expensive. Another clue the glass is fake is it’s finish. The finish of tumbled glass doesn’t have the frosting of real glass, tumbled glass has a dull or satiny finish that is very even over the surface of the glass and the glass is very see-through. The glass in the picture below (from tropicalseaglass) shows authentic sea glass on the left and fake sea glass on the right. Please be aware that some authentic sea glass can be thin, like the glass on the right.

tropical sea glass

Author: Cathy

Hi, my name is Cathy Kelly! When I was introduced to sea glass I didn't know that it would become such a passion for me. Whether it's walking on a beach or wading in a river searching for sea glass and pottery, creating jewelry and crafts, searching out the history of a piece of glass or pottery, or marketing and selling online and at craft fairs, I enjoy every aspect to it's fullest.

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