I’m often asked how to tell the difference between surf-tumbled sea glass and man-made, tumbled glass. In this photo, the pieces on your right are artificially man-made and the ones on the left are pieces I have found on beaches in Hawaii. Note the round contour of mine. Three key factors will make it easy for you to determine for yourself if beach glass is ocean tumbled or artificial: color, shape and frost.Quality, natural sea glass can be found in a variety of colors. One finds different colors, depending on harvesting locations. Hawaii is one place where you are more likely to find gorgeous aqua and teal blue pieces. Clear, bright green and rootbeer are the most common colors. Seafoam (pale green) is also fairly prevalent and desirable because of the way the color catches the light. And of course the rare colors include yellow, pink, red and the elusive orange. See a large grouping of rare colors? Probably fake.
Shape is key to unlocking the mystery of genuine verses faux sea glass. Smooth, rounded pieces, like I find on beaches in Hawaii, are indicative of surf-tumbled glass. Sharp, jagged edges are a tell tale sign of artificial glass. See a chunk with a square edge and you’re probably looking at man-made glass. Flat and thin pieces can also be indicative of artificial sea glass.
And finally, frost. Not all sea glass is frosted. While not every piece of genuine seaglass is heavily frosted like the pieces in this photo, this pitting cannot be correctly duplicated. I’ll be discussing “patina” in detail in a future post.
Look closely at the pieces you are considering. If you are unsure, I would be glad to offer my opinion. I wish you luck in your quest for genuine surf-tumbled sea glass be it in on the beach or purchased from Tropical Sea Glass.