Here at RealSeaGlass.com we are all about REAL Sea Glass! I have been curating real sea glass since I was a child – all the way back to 1976. Over the years, I’ve collected thousands upon thousands of pieces of sea glass, and have discovered a life-long passion for these gifts of the sea.
Each piece of sea glass on our website is guaranteed to be genuine, unaltered Real Sea Glass. Each piece comes with a Certificate of Authenticity and our 100% Lifetime Authenticity Guarantee. We are members of the North American Sea Glass Association because this wonderful organization is dedicated to educating the public about real sea glass – and, these folks are just as passionate as we are!
What follows are my deeply held thought and feelings about Real vs. Fake Sea Glass, and why distinguishing between the two matters. But behind the words is a real person. If you have any questions about real sea glass, or are a member of the media, I welcome your call or email. We can celebrate real sea glass together!
OK, so here goes…
Anyone who knows me knows I’m a happy person – I don’t like negativity and see my role as Real Sea Glass’ CEO as “Chief Beach Joy Spreader.” But on one topic, I’ve just got to let loose, so please bear with me… just give me a few seconds to vent, and then I will give a complete punch list for spotting fake vs. real sea glass.
When it comes to the wonderful, inspiring world of sea glass, there is one thing that makes me truly angry.
FAKE SEA GLASS!
First, there is no such thing as “Cultured,” “Faux,” “Man-Made,” “Colorized” or “Machine Tumbled” sea glass. These are all names for cheap, mass produced frosted glass beads.
May I take a side road here and talk about why I’m so passionate about real sea glass, and why you may care as much as I do about spotting fakes? (Please know, I’m not a real sea glass snob, I just want people to be honest about what they’re selling… and yeah, I guess I am kind-of a real sea glass snob – because it’s just so amazingly lovely!)
1. Real Sea Glass is Glass with a Past: Each piece of real sea glass has its own story to tell, and speaks of bygone times and places.
2. Each Piece of Real Sea Glass is Unique: No two pieces of glass break in exactly the same way, and decades of dancing in the waves, tumbling on the shore and washing across the sand give each piece of real sea glass its own shape, texture and personality.
3. Real Sea Glass is not Stamped Out in a Factory: In a world where it seems like everything is mass produced in the cheapest way possible, real sea glass reminds us that there are still things in life that are wonderfully one-of-a-kind… just like us!
4. You Just Can’t Truly Replicate Real Sea Glass: No matter how sophisticated
the fakers get, there is nothing that comes close to the inner glow and dappled, frosty surface of real sea glass.
5. Real Sea Glass Has Three Times the Love: Sea glass people love their real sea glass! First, a dedicated sea glass hunter revels in their discovery, loving each glowing shard of sea glass they find. Next, a real sea glass artist studies each piece, lovingly crafting it into a unique hand-made heirloom piece of jewelry, and third, the real sea glass jewelry collector loves their own unique Bit of the Beach.
6. Real Sea Glass’ Imperfections Make it Perfect: If you love real sea glass, you study each piece, wondering at each tiny divot and the subtle to deep frosting. The curve, the unique shape, the bubbles… real sea glass has had a full life, just like us, and that’s what makes it so beautiful.
7. Real Sea Glass Continues to Increase in Value: Perhaps because people love something genuine, real sea glass values continue to climb as sources of the authentic sea gems dry up.
8. Real is Just Better than Fake: Real sea glass jewelry lasts for generations, and having something with a story, a one-of-a-kind, nature-shaped natural beauty, and a mystique all its own is just better than something that is mass-produced by the millions.
9. It’s a Very Personal Gift from the Sea: As someone who has spent a lifetime beachcombing, I can tell you that each piece of real sea glass I discover seems, in a very real way, to be a gift right from the sea to me. Once just a discarded piece of glass, the sea takes the broken, jagged cast off and creates a beautiful gem. There’s a life lesson in there somewhere, me thinks…
10. Having Real Sea Glass Means You Can Have a Bit of the Beach with You Every Day: If it’s one thing real sea glass lovers have in common, it’s a deep connection to the sea. While we may not be able to stroll the shore every day, our small piece of real sea glass connects us to the sea every day we wear it.
And an aside here before I get back to my rant… sea glass is a close sister to beach glass, which is found on the shores of fresh water lakes and rivers. While it tends to be smoother than sea glass, due to the pH of salt water, it, too, is in the family of real sea glass, with an amazing history all its own.
Real sea glass is shaped by sea, sand, surf and tides, and takes years – often decades, to become smooth and frosty. Only then is each precious piece of history lovingly hand-gathered piece by piece, hour after hour by people like me and my other dedicated sea glass hunters – often in the bitter cold of wet, windy winter storms. Each of the sea glass shards is completely unique, and has a fascinating story to tell.
But real sea glass is a vanishing treasure. With its rise in popularity over the last few years, and the fact that we no longer discard glass in the ocean throughout most of the world, supplies of real sea glass dwindle daily.
So, manufacturers of cheap, frosted glass beads and nuggets have quickly jumped on the sea glass bandwagon and are producing millions of frosted junk glass beads and marketing them as sea glass.
(And I just have to say it… are these manufacturers calling it sea glass because they took their last vacation at the beach? Because that’s about as close to the sea as these cheap beads have ever gotten.)
Often, their intent is just to mimic sea glass, but, unfortunately, manufacturers and mass market (well, and small market) jewelry producers alike often have an intent to deceive. They clearly label their products “sea glass” and charge ridiculous prices for what amounts to a bead that costs them pennies.
And, I’ve seen the result. When we had our shop in Cannon Beach, I had ladies literally in tears when they realized (after seeing our extensive display of real sea glass) that the “sea glass” jewelry they spent a tidy sum on is fake. Each of them would say: “But they told me it was real!” And then they would talk about how beautiful real sea glass is compared to the fake stuff – I always feel so badly for these folks! Usually what they’ve ended up with is modern glass broken up with a hammer and tumbled in someone’s garage, or stamped out in a faraway factory.
I have no argument with cheap frosted craft glass. As long as sellers clearly label it as such and don’t call it sea glass, we’re all good. But, as a member of the North American Sea Glass Association, I join with other genuine sea glass jewelry artists and collectors around the world to help educate the public on the differences between real sea glass and the fakes out there.
So, rant over… let’s get positive…
1. Get to Know Texture: Texture is the easiest way to identify most fake sea glass. If the texture is uniform and smooth, be on guard. The sea creates sea glass through “hydration,” leaching the lime and soda out of the glass, and giving it a rounded shape and frosty texture. Look for tiny “C’s,” uneven texture and divots in the glass. Some sea glass has a crystalline appearance that sparkles in the sun.
2. Study the shape: Dead giveaway – if the earrings are exactly the same shape, or there are multiple pendants lined up with the same shape – it’s fake! Nature never makes two pieces of sea glass that are exactly the same – that’s what machines do. Most fake sea glass has a very consistent thickness as well – whether flat or rounded, all the pieces in the same shape have the same thickness.
3. Watch those Edges: Of course, now, the fakers have gotten really good at what they do, and will vary the shape slightly. But study the edges – are they too smooth or too jagged, but still with a smooth texture? Is there any difference between the surface and the edge? Real sea glass is usually more frosty on the edges – and the texture of edges may vary on the same piece.
4. Check the Color: Real sea glass colors are a joy to behold. From the pale pastels to the bright gum-drop colors, we love them all. But… if you see a display or website brimming with cheap orange, red, pink, purple or turquoise “sea glass” run! These colors are very rare, and a perfect piece of real sea glass in these colors, and many other rare colors, can run into the hundreds of dollars.
5. Assess Your Sea Glass Supplier: As sophisticated as the fakers get, they can’t get better than your gut! If you’re instincts tell you that something is wrong… it probably is. Has your sea glass artist been in the business for years? Are they experienced enough to be able to judge authenticity and guarantee it? Does the store have sea glass of varying qualities or is it all “perfect”? Do they hand-gather the sea glass themselves, or have a personal, long-term relationship with their sea glass hunters? Do they take the time to grade and document their sea glass? Can they tell you the source of each piece of sea glass they sell? Does the sea glass come with supporting educational documentation? Is the sea glass artist a member of the North American Sea Glass Association? Can you speak with the sea glass artist personally? Just by asking a few questions, you can ensure you are getting a piece of real sea glass that will last a lifetime and beyond.
As always, if you have any questions about real sea glass, feel free to call or email! After all, real sea glass is what we both love!
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