Fake sea glass can be made by tumbling in a small tumbler or even in bulk with a cement mixer. I have shared the how-tos before - see links below.  Sea glass is getting harder to find simply because the garbage people toss into the sea in recent decades have been plastic which replaced glass as containers.

It's hard to collect sea glass if you don't live near the sea but you can either purchase the real thing or make or buy fake sea glass. There is nothing wrong with using fake sea glass in jewelry making.  Indeed, recycling old glass bottles and even pottery is a good way to divert unwanted containers from the dump. What is wrong is when fake sea glass is passed off and sold as the real thing. 

So how do you go about making an informed decision on whether you are getting fake or real sea glass?  Here are some of the ways. 

Guess which is fake and which is real sea glass from my photos below :

If you guessed B, then give yourself a pat on the back! The sea glass in this picture were all collected from Nova Scotia, in Canada.  One of my former colleagues in Nova Scotia lived by the sea and collected the glass for me as he regularly walked his dog along the beach. 

Color is one of the biggest factors in determining if what you are getting might be real or fake. The most common colors of vintage glass bottles etc are white, brown and green. So sea glass in those colors predominate.  Blues, pink and seafoam (light aqua) colors also exist. My real sea glass collection colors probably reflect what was common in the area they were found in - there are fewer cobalt blues. Other areas might yield different proportions. 

An uncommon color is red. So beware of collections containing lots unusual colors like orange as those shown in A. Note that some sellers also separate out certain colors of sea glass, for example, sea foams only but these will fetch higher prices. 

Shape is another determining factor.  Real sea glass will be of really irregular shapes. You won't find complete rounds or uniform shapes of any kind. So the little white rectangles in C were a fake sea glass giveaway. 

Edges should be a mixture of rough and smooth as bits of glass which have been collected from the sea. This reflects the different lengths of times pieces have been subjected to the rolling action of the waves against sand and rock.  A and C are all uniformly rough like they have all spent not a lot of time in the tumbler. And the pieces in D are all uniformly smooth as these have spent a long time in the tumbler together.

Real Sea Glass

Texture is also key. Real sea glass has been tossed by the sea against rocks and rubbed against sand for years and years. So there is not just the frosted look but little divots where bits of glass has been gouged out from being bashed against rocks. The fake sea glass in D has a very uniform frosting which gives it away.

Top : real sea glass Bottom : Fake sea glass

Price is another indicator.  My fake sea glass all came from my local dollar store so that should tell you that they are not the real thing despite the label.  The rise of so much fake sea glass masquerading as real sea glass is troubling as the uninformed may not know that they have been deceived.

Check out different sea glass suppliers here and see if you can spot real sea glass from the likely fakes! It also helps to read listing descriptions carefully. The vendor may label the items as inaccurately as sea glass but do state that they are handmade or tumbled in the main text.

One real sea glass supplier I found is FloridaShellsandMore.  Some really lovely collections like this 40 piece collection of mixed sizes. She also has very tiny pieces. 

40 piece sea glass collection

This vendor clearly collects shells and sea glass on beach walks because she also has sea glass bottle neck pieces, perhaps not very desirable for jewelry making, as they are such odd shapes. She also has collections of single color ones as well as the old olive green types

Her large sea foam or light aqua collection would make great pendants!

GemBeadSales is a reputable supplier of cultured sea glass.  "Cultured" is a clever way to describe fake sea glass. The pre-drilled faux sea glass listing for really pretty pastel colors includes this clear explanation :
They are made with recycled glass and put through a man-made process that simulates the effect of many years of erosion by Mother Nature and the Sea.

Before You Go :

jewelry making supplies


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Original Post by THE BEADING GEM