Genuine Sea Glass - How To Tell The Difference Between Real & Fake


 small-genuine-sea-glass-cardGenuine Sea Glass is a term that I starting using in 1992 when By The Sea Jewelry first went online. Now used widely, it has become the standard term to indicate that sea glass is natural found glass just the way it was picked up from the beach. We now use the term Certified Genuine Sea Glass© to distinguish ourselves from the pack.

Certified Genuine Sea Glass means that we verify the sea glass in the most complete way possible. Other terms include, Natural Sea Glass, Real Sea Glass, Found Sea Glass, Pure Sea Glass, True Sea Glass, Unaltered Sea Glass, Authentic Sea Glass, well, get the idea! 

Genuine Sea Glass means the sea glass in your jewelry is UNALTERED from the way it was found on the beach (not tumbled or created by any artificial means and not colored). Real natural sea glass comes from old bottles, jars and other glass items that have been discarded in the ocean and tumbled naturally by waves and sand over many many years.

By The Sea Jewelry is proud to offer some of the rarest sea glass pieces available for public sale. We have invested decades in collecting and tens of thousand of dollars to provide our customers with the finest sea glass and sea glass jewelry in the world!

The Rise of Fake Sea Glass

With the publications of books, magazines and the rise of the internet, sea glass began to grow in demand and popularity in mid 1990's. Collectors around the world began selling sea glass on sites like Ebay. This also spurred the greedy and dishonest to "create" fake sea glass usually in rare colors that demanded a higher price. Unfortunately, some people were using this in jewelry either thinking it was real OR simply not knowing or caring. The NASGA (North American Sea Glass Association) was formed to band together sellers and artists pledging to use and sell ONLY real sea glass.

We are proud to be one of the founding board members of the NASGA and remain a commercial member today!

chinese-fake-sea-glass as seen on Litas FB page sorting

Many sites today are labeling products "Sea Glass" that are nothing but frosted glass or beads. Sites like Amazon, Ebay and Etsy are notorious for this. While there are a few people on these sites selling the real thing, there are MANY selling the manmade version .

There is nothing wrong with fake sea glass for crafts and decorating as long as it is labeled as such. Some disclose that it is "Cultured Sea Glass" or "Man Made" or "Recycled Sea Glass". Some do NOT! 

Shown Here - Man made Chinese Sea Glass sold on Ebay


pure-sea-glass-by-richard-lamotte.jpgWhen we can, we have also started to photograph our jewelry with close up macro shots to show you the telltale "C"'s that indicate Genuine Naturally aged sea glass (similar to the photo in "Pure Sea Glass" by Richard Lamotte, considered to be the sea glass bible).

These photos are similar to the certification of some diamonds, creating a lasting fingerprint or record of the exact sea glass in your jewelry!

For more info on Pure Sea Glass - Please visit Sea Glass Publishing


certified-genuine-sea-glass-card.jpgComplete Certification

We also personally certify with our experience and our 30 year reputation in this field, that each piece of sea glass jewelry we sell is authentic, natural or genuine sea glass & we sign our name to it! 

We will give you the most in depth knowledge possible of the sea glass used in your piece(s). This means we will tell the provenance of the sea glass including Color, The Location Found, Possible Source, as well as the Quality , Color and Rarity values.

Each piece we sell comes with a description of how to tell "Certified Genuine Sea Glass"© from artificial, faux or craft glass. We go the extra mile by photographing much of our jewelry with a macro lens so you can see the pitting of the real sea glass piece(s) used in our jewelry!

Many people have asked "How DO I tell the difference between real Sea Glass and fake?"

Below are the main characteristic of a natural sea glass gem that we use in our Certification.

Genuine Sea Glass and Certified Genuine Sea Glass© (natural sea glass) has many characteristics manmade glass cannot duplicate.

close-up-detail-of-vivid-green-sea-glass1.Pores & Texture - Are the main feature of real sea glass. Under a microscope or macro lens, these pores resemble small "c" shaped abrasions caused by years of tumbling in the surf with the different sizes of sand, gravel and hydration from decades of exposure to the water. (Fake or faux sea glass seldom has uneven texture because the media used to tumble it in a commercial machine is uniform in size or the glass has been etched with chemicals leaving no pores. While faux sea glass has a certain appeal, it does not have the beauty nor value of naturally collected sea glass).


aqua-sea-glass-showing-frost.jpg2. Frost - upon removal from the water, crystalline formations or a frost can be seen on real sea glass. You can conceal the frost and magnify the color of your jewelry by rubbing a drop of oil into the surface.

Frost is caused by years of exposure to water where the structure of the glass actually breaks down from salinity; hydroxide then leaches to the surface of the glass. It is NOT salt residue. Salinity of the water has a great effect on sea glass, it adds to the hydration process and therefore the quality of the glass. 

(Faux glasses can have tumbling residue but not the have the true frost of real sea glass some fake glasses are achieved by tumbling and acid etching). Frost can sometimes be lost in the jewelry making process but can be brought back by cleaning with alcohol.

3. Quality - An overall term for the remaining factors;

Thickness - Shape, Color and Bubbles and additional features.

Thickness and shape - Some real sea glass can be thin but the thicker it is the older is likely to be and it's shape will sometimes have curvature (newer glass is much thinner than vintage glass and many fake sea glasses are made from colored flat rolled glass with no curve like from a real bottle or jar).

Color, there are simply colors of sea glass that are no longer widely used or even manufactured today. Bubbles appear in some older sea glass pieces and are from the handmade glass process.

Remember - while not all sea glass pieces have all of the listed features, most natural sea glass pieces have several of them!

What To Look For In Fake Sea Glass

Sad to say but there are some companies and individuals that are selling tumbled or etched glass as the real thing. Be careful when purchasing sea glass from someone who claims to sell sea or beach glass at cheap rates. Rare colors are just that, RARE, and there are people out there are selling manufactured glass as "SEA GLASS" or "BEACH GLASS".

Sea Glass is just not any piece of glass that is frosted. Real or Genuine sea glass is aged by nature over many years and exposure to water and current.

Here are some of the characteristics of Fake, Faux or Artificial Sea Glass.
It is our firm opinion that there is nothing wrong with selling a product that "resembles" sea glass just as long as it is disclosed up front that it is man made.

Frost Glass Beads Resembling Sea GlassToo Smooth - Many fake or faux sea glasses on the market can be distinguished by a very smooth appearance. Though sea glass texture varies from beach to beach, upon close inspection, you can always see some vitrification of the glass. This is where the glass becomes "hydrated" or frosted as the sodium in the glass is replaced by hydrogen in the water. This begins the telltale pitting and aging of the glass.

Most artificial sea glass products that are too smooth include an acid etched modern glass. These come in the form of beads (prevalent on sites like Etsy and Ebay) and cut stained glass frosted in a tumbler.


Artificial peach or depression craft glass


Too Rough - Glass that is too rough is usually glass that has been artificially weathered in a tumbler or cement mixer. Many craft supply companies offer this product for decorating, display and craft projects.

Though the colors of this craft glass may resemble or mimic Genuine Sea Glass (like our example here which mimics depression peach sea glass), they are easily distinguishable from the real thing. They often come in mesh bags at craft stores and are sold for around $6


Artifical Sea Glass that has been cut and polished in a tumbler

Geometric Shapes - Though natural sea glass CAN HAVE angular shapes (like triangles - where the impact of the breakage occurs) and rectangular shapes (usually from broken window glass), if you see an assortment of sea glass that all has the SAME shape, it is probably been man made.

Though it IS possible to match real sea glass like this, it takes HUNDREDS of natural sea glass pieces to come up with similar pairs.

See Our Collections for more info on how By The Sea Jewelry is able to make natural sea glass pairs for earrings and other jewelry items.


Frosted Glass Gem Pieces found in craft storesRare Colors At A Low Price - Rare sea glass is just that - RARE. To see which colors are the rarest, see our Colors Of Sea Glass Page

If you see someone selling blue, red, orange, pink, lavender etc. for minimal amounts, the chances are that it is FAKE! Some sellers will disclose this deep in their descriptions, some will not. Most sellers of Genuine or Authentic sea glass will let you know where their sea glass came from.

Cost is the great determiner. If you see a bag of blue or red sea glass for $5.99 and claiming it is real sea glass, it is not.


For example - A single piece of bright aqua sea glass (unset in jewelry) recently sold for over $400. Single unset top quality red pieces can go for well over $100 in a pendant size. A pair of genuine blue earrings can sell for a much as $200 (depending on the sophistication of the setting) and a pair of red for as much as $600. You may see earrings saying there are made of sea glass in these colors but if they are artificial or faux sea glass will sell for around $20 - $30.

Ask questions! If buying from a private seller, ask them if they personally collected the glass. Most disreputable will hedge this question in a wide variety of ways from, "I bought it at an estate auction" to "we bought it at a flea market. Believe me I have heard them all! One fake seller actually told me to LICK the glass, that you could taste the salt....Funny Huh?

Look for sellers that say they have 30-40 retail outlets and sell rare colors to them, most likely they are using cheap fake glass. If it sounds too good to be true.........

Most real sea glass sellers will go out of their way to tell you about their collections and are passionate about their pieces!

NOT Real Sea Glass Jewelry



10 Reasons to buy REAL or Genuine Sea Glass Jewelry

1. Value - Sea Glass will only increase in value as supplies diminish.

2. Genuine - Sea Glass cannot be replicated by artificial means.

3. Made by Nature - It cannot be mass produced.

4. Unique - Each Piece is truly “one of a kind.”

5. Provenance - It has a history, a story.

6. Sea Glass is Natural  - It is not altered, reshaped, artificially etched or colorized.

7. Made By The Sea - It is naturally tumbled in the ocean for many years.

8. Eco Friendly - Once trash now treasure sea glass and has no byproduct.

9. Tactile - Real Sea Glass has an amazing texture that seems to sooth.

10. Handcrafted - Real Sea Glass Jewelry is Artisan Made.



All of our jewelry uses only 100% Genuine beach found sea glass. 

Shop Now from our wide selection!


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(Please note, this page constitutes legal notice that the term "Certified Genuine Sea Glass"© is intellectual property of By The Sea Jewelry (Linda Jereb) and may not be used unless express permission is obtained from the owner. Commercial use of this term is protected by U. S. Trademark Law Rules Of Practice& Federal Statutes U. S. Patent & Trademark Office. Please Remember - The text and contents of this web site are protected by copyright law, this is provided as information for collectors and may not be used in any form unless permission has first been obtained. - Thank You).


PLEASE NOTE - Sorry, By The Sea Jewelry does NOT provide sea glass appraisals or certification to third parties due to time limitations.