Sea Glass: Collector’s Guide

sea glass, beach glass
Imagen de Heather (CC BY 2.0)

For those who do not know, we call Sea Glass, Seaglass, Beach glass, or mermaid tears to the pieces of glass that we find eroded and polished in the sea, rivers, lakes, etc., because of the currents, waves, rock sand, pebbles and other agents.

In addition to the abrasive agents that we have listed, the saline solution of the ocean also helps the crystal dissolve over the years and gives it that glazed, frosty or sugary hue.

What is Sea Glass and Beach Glass

They are pieces of glass, which have been in the sea for more than 20 years, they have rounded edges, with a finish that looks sugary and with some brighter little “C” shaped marks.

Sea glass collectors guide
Imagen de Ama Strachan (CC BY 2.0)

They come from crystals of objects that fall into the sea, break and erode over time. They are bottles, jugs, glasses, window panes, and much more curious things like car light glasses, or any object made of glass. Many times they come even from landfills or garbage that they throw into the ocean.

Today we live surrounded by glass things but the SeaGlass that we find ancient comes from many fewer objects and sometimes thanks to the color or some relief that it preserves its origin can be traced.

These glasses, or crystals are very beautiful and difficult to find and are widely used in jewelry.

Here I try to leave a guide if you want to start in the collection of Sea Glass

Differences between Sea Glass and Beach Glass

sea glass vs beach glass
Imagen de hurricanemaine (CC BY 2.0)

Although many people do not distinguish them and call it Sea Glass or Beach Glass interchangeably, there is a technical difference between the two.

  • Sea Glass: They are the chips that we find in the sea, salt water.
  • Beach Glass: are those found in freshwater, rivers, lakes.

Those that erode in the sea have more patina and have a more sugary appearance. Because in the sea there is more movement than in sweet areas and the action of salt and the different pH of the sea.

Mermaid Tears

Mermaid tears
Imagen de kennakenai (CC BY 2.0)

In English they are called Mermaid Tears. Legend has it that every time a sailor drowned the sirens screamed and the tears that fell to them are the Seaglass we found.


Different colors of genuine sea glass
Imagen de kennakenai (CC BY 2.0)

The most common colors of marine glass include transparent (“flint” or “white”, used for countless bottles and jars of all descriptions, especially manufactured in the last 70-100 years, window glass, dishes, etc.) , emerald or lime. green (typical of Sprite, 7-up, gingerale and other older soda bottles) and shades of amber (including brown glass or “brown beer bottle”).

Red, yellow and orange are very rare colors to find, as is light blue-green.

beach glass
Imagen de nathanmac87 (CC BY 2.0)

In some beaches of California where the glass before falling into the sea passed through the fire we found particles embedded inside the glass, this is called Fire Glass, it is very rare and very appreciated and valuable, because unlike in gems and stones Beautiful where you seek the clarity, clarity and transparency of the jewel in the glass, the strange thing is that it presents particles.

Sea Glass in jewelry

sea glass used in jewelry
Imagen de alisonpavlos (CC BY 2.0)

Being very beautiful and difficult to find pieces are used in jewelry and as we have said this has made many fake be glass or handmade, that is, crystals with a finish similar to that found in the sea but that takes 4-8 hours to get in place of the more than 20 years needed in natural crystals.

That is why we must know how to identify a natural one from a FAKE. Because if we buy we know what we take home.

Fake Sea Glass

As it is a very sought after product and used in jewelry, and crafts, the human being has tried to imitate what costs so much time naturally.

There are several methods to get it. Polishing it in industrial turners, with sand and also with acid. If you are interested in making your own, read the article on how to make Sea Glass at home.

How to know if it is authentic Sea glass

There are different characteristics that will help us identify it.

Sea Glass is scarce and difficult to find, so if you see SeaGlass bags being sold for a small price, you know that it is not natural.

Uniformity: The Sea Glass fake is more uniform due to the industrialized process while the original has more polished areas than others, randomly.

Texture: It is difficult to explain with words better to look for an image. The original presents what they call a more frosty surface, while the fake is more satin, due to the action of the acid they use to create it and as we have said it is more uniform.

Glazing and C-marks: The authentic Sea Glass looks as if it were sugary and if we look at it carefully, brighter “C” shaped marks due to erosion are seen. These brands that are sometimes only visible with some increases is a clear sign that it is an original piece, since they have not yet discovered how to reproduce this type of feature.

Where to buy

If you are interested in buying Sea Glass, either for your collection, to make some crafts, or an object made with this glass for a gift, look at the following stores.

  • Amazon: we all know Amazon and its benefits.
  • Ebay: A great place to find both artificial and natural Sea Glass. You will find really interesting pieces and with the auctions you can get interesting things if you like to collect. But make sure the pieces are original.
  • Etsy: The portal where artisans sell their handmade products on the Internet. You will find a lot of pieces both raw and jewelry made with Sea glass. In most sales of artificial Sea Glass you will see that they indicate it as Handmade, tumbled or similar

Purchase Advice

Nothing happens to buy them artificial chips if you like them or need them for a project. The important thing is that they do not deceive you and that both natural and artificial purchases give you exactly what you have bought.

  • If they sell you many pieces at a low price it is artificial sea glass
  • If all the pieces are similar to each other too
  • Look at the issue of frosting and if it has the marks in C

Sources and references

To make this article I have been reading and contrasting the information on all these websites.

1 thought on “Sea Glass: Collector’s Guide”

  1. Hello, I am new to this whole sea glass thing and fell in love with the idea when my cousin made me a beautiful turtle shell from sea glass she brought back from Okinawa Japan. I live in Virginia and just down the street from a beach so I figured why not give it a try since I love crafting. I have no clue how to tell the difference between pretty rocks, broken bottles and true ocean glass. can you please help me. I’m seriously just trying to make pretty pieces for myself and maybe a family member or two, nothing big. Its the craft I am interested in not the money, but I want the out come to be real, not fake or store bought. Thank You,


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