Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Cliptomania Highlight: Sea Glass (Revised)


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Okay, it's technically not a gemstone.  However, technically sea glass is an archaeological piece of the history of human civilization. Since the oceans have served as a dumping grounds for glass since the beginning of time, through the result of shipwrecks, piracy, foul weather, and human trash disposal, sea glass, or as it is also called "beach glass," has become not only a hobby for collectors, but a craft medium for beautiful works-of-art. With its usage in hand-crafted jewelry, we would like to highlight this wonderful creation compliments of nature and man.


What is it?
Sea glass is physically and chemically weathered anthropogenic glass found along bodies of fresh and salt water. In simple terms, glass tossed about in the ocean and washed ashore. Waves and currents toss the glass, breaking it into smaller pieces and smoothing the edges. This weathering process gives the glass a frosted and smooth appearance.  Sea glass origins range from discarded Victorian apothecary bottles, vials and perfume bottles, to Mason jars, soda, beer, liquor and ink bottles, fruit jars, windshields,  windows and pottery.



Colors.
Most common colors are kelly green, brown, white (clear), and purple (clear).  Less common colors include jade, amber (from whiskey, medicine and early bleach bottles), lime green (soda bottles from 1960s), forest green, and ice or soft-blue. Uncommon colors come from a type of green, which comes from early to mid-1900s Coca-Cola, Dr. Pepper, RC Cola and beer bottles.  These colors are found once in every 50 to 100 pieces.  Purple, citron, opaque white (from milk glass), cobalt, cornflower and aqua are very uncommon and are found once for every 200 to 1,000 pieces of glass found.  Extremely rare colors are gray, pink, teal, black, yellow, turquoise, and red.  Orange is the least common color, found once in about every 10,000 pieces. Black sea glass is the oldest, originating from thick 18th century bottles.

Locations.
It is possible to find sea glass on just about every beach  around the world, but there are certain areas that are famous for their bounty.  The best times to look are during spring tides and during the first low tide after a storm.

Real or Fake?
You don't have to scout the beach the get sea glass.  You can buy authentic sea glass, but you need learn the difference between the real deal and the wanna-bes.  The authentic glass is becoming harder to find due to more people searching for it, glass items being replaced by plastic, and the fact that littering is increasingly discouraged. This leads some crafters to create "craft glass" from ordinary pieces of glass using a rock tumbler (see image below left).  This craft glass lacks not only the authentic etched surface by means of long-term exposure to water conditions, but may also have rough edges, a lack of frosted appearance and the small "C" patterns that emerge on the surface of real sea glass.

Some crafters find real shards of glass on the beach that have not completed a long-weathering process, and using a rock tumbler, creating what is known as "twice-tossed" glass. For many professional collectors, artisans and retailers, the main issue is honesty about the source of the glass.  Actual sea glass will also be more expensive, especially in those uncommon colors mentioned above.

Cliptomania.com has an entire page dedicated to beautiful non-pierced earring creations by Solaras (Simon Harrison Design Corp), created of sea glass and other components like faux and genuine pearls. To see these click Sea Glass or do an Advanced Search and type in the keywords "sea glass" to see all results located throughout our website.