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Is It Genuine Sea Glass?

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Authentic sea glass is becoming harder to find these days for several reasons.

The plastics industry now manufactures products that can be substituted for glass and the actual hobby of collecting this rare treasure has become more popular.

Sea glass has acquired a dollar value these days and the popularity of 'fakes' has become more prevalent.

Because this fake product can be made easily and at little expense it is now flooding the market place and causing a problem. However there is no way that these fakes can possibly come close to the the look and feel of genuine sea glass.

For years, sometimes over a hundred, these pieces of glass have been worked on by the chemical action of sea water and sand as they have been tumbled and tossed over and over until they have landed on the shoreline.

Genuine sea glass originates from several different sources and it has taken the partnership of man and nature to start the process. The glass, be it whole or in piece form - a shard, comes from a man made bottle, tableware, crockery or electrical component. This somehow finds its way into the ocean. Be it shipwreck, natural disaster or simply just thrown in, the action on the glass over time produces the end result that a collector now holds in their hand.

Genuine Sea Glass sugar bowl know found on Frankston, Victoria, foreshoreGenuine Sea Glass sugar bowl know found on Frankston, Victoria, foreshore

Genuine Sea Glass Characteristics

  • Because genuine sea glass originates from old and discarded bottle and tableware, there are sometimes glass manufacturer's markings on the piece.
1900's beer bottle base1900's beer bottle base, genuine sea glass found down along the Mornington Peninsular foreshore
  • When sea glass is offered for sale in bulk be aware that the rarer the color the less likely it is that the glass is genuine. For example, the reds, the oranges, the blues, the violets and the blacks.
  • The surface of the authentic sea glass piece is pitted and frosted and sometimes grooved in places. The shape is very rarely perfect, that is round, triangular, rectangular or square. It always appears off centre or misshapen. This is due to the natural tumbling and abrasive action that it has gone through over many years,
  • Look for tell tale 'c' markings on the surface although these days there are some clever imitations out there that will display these marks but NOT the deep and irregular pitting combined.
Authentic sea glass etched surface and 'c' markingsAuthentic sea glass etched surface and 'c' markings. Note the shape and manufacturer's mark
  • Authentic sea glass sometimes carries its history intact. That is, it was once a bottle for instance and now just the kneck of it has survived. The ridges of the bottle neck are obvious.
sea glass bottle with friendly inhabitantSea glass bottle neck with friendly inhabitant

Fake Sea Glass Characteristics

The 'fake' shard is manufactured using broken pieces of glass, a rock tumbler and a cutting medium such as silicon carbide, a coarse grit like substance. The result is a smooth edged piece of glass with a frosted surface similar to that of genuine sea glass BUT ... it does not have the deep grooves and 'c' shaped markings of the real thing

  • Origins are from either a factory or workshop and this man made,  or a rock tumbler hobbyist. Craft glass is being manufactured in bulk using either a rock tumbler or an acid bath or a combination of the two. Please be aware that the acid used is toxic and corrosive and can be dangerous to surfaces if left standing on them for too long and exposed to the damp air. 
  • A variety of colors of the fakes can be sold in bulk. Watch for 'rare' colors
  • The feel of the pieces is smoother than that of genuine sea glass.
  • The surface is frosted but not as pitted as the real thing
  • The shape is almost perfect, that is round, rectangular, square or oval
  • There are no manufacturer's markings on the piece
  • Tumbled glass is often rough on the edges and not smooth like authentic sea glass

If you are in the market to buy genuine sea glass, the best way to do this is to actually communicate directly with the seller. Asking them questions as to the origin of the piece/pieces that you are wanting to purchase, will alert you to its authenticity. 

Ask them if they have collected the sea glass themselves. Where did they collect it from and has it been altered in any way that they know of.

If you are satisfied with the answers, then go right ahead and purchase the piece to add to your collection. If you are in the least bit unsure, then maybe ask someone else who is more knowledgeable, to negotiate on your behalf.

Of course there is one way that you will always know that you have genuine sea glass, and that is to collect it yourself. 

genuine sea glass on Glass Beach Robe South AustraliaGenuine sea glass lying on Glass Beach in Robe, South Australia

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How is Sea Glass Made, the pieces that you find on the beaches around the world. Authentic, genuine sea glass not fake pieces that have been man made.


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