Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Is It Just Me or.... Recent Observations on Sea Glass Collecting....

Is it Just Me or....

Has the prices being realized on the sale of sea glass gone through the roof? The economy has been just awful and from what I've gathered, I'm not the only sea glass jewelry maker that has been experiencing slower than usual sales. So what gives with the insane recent prices?

My hubby thinks there has been a huge number of jewelry-makers that have noticed that sea glass jewelry is a niche worth looking into. He's come across several listings on eBay where the sea glass is quite questionable (disclaimer- it's sometimes very hard to tell if some shards are authentic or not...but in most cases, he believes the sellers that are 100% legit do a great job showing their offerings to be authentic sea glass...and he questions those sellers that don't take quality pictures to be those to watch out for... he feels they are hiding something...Hmmm, tumbled, craft ???)
He's also noticed some rather questionable to blatantly fake pieces of sea glass jewelry over the last 4-6 months. Since he is a huge part of my operation (the main sea glasser, hole driller and has taken over the ordering of all supplies needed for my little biz) he has started to question people as to their knowledge of sea glass, where specific pieces were found and so on. He's gone as far to tell vendors that some of the pieces they are selling shouldn't be listed as authentic sea glass, rather be called altered sea glass because they've been tumbled, treated with some sort of oil, or they are just "undercooked".

Is It Just Me or....

Is everyone selling jewelry made with "sea glass" lately? I've come across several jewelry-makers that use several different types beads as their focal piece and lo and behold, there is the odd sea glass jewelry creation.

In some cases, the vendor remembers finding the piece at the beach when they were little, or on summer vacation. The answer flows freely, and they often have a story about walking on the beach with friends or family when they came across it. Most admit to not knowing much about sea glass ... until they found sea glass jewelry online or at a craft show and realized she had a great focal piece for a jewelry creation (and could get decent $$ for it).

But others know very little about sea glass, claim to have been given it, purchased it at a yard sale (?), but most likely checked out a site like Etsy.com, saw the prices being asked for authentic sea glass and they figured no one would know the difference between tumbled glass and authentic. Perhaps I give them too much credit... in many cases it looks like the packaged "stuff" that can be purchased from their local craft store for a few dollars. Or bought a cheap lot of sea glass on eBay, not knowing what they were buying.

In almost every case, the vendor knows nothing about sea glass and often, it's the greed of the vendor that gives them away. Instead of sticking with a common color, they go for the rare Red colors (because the asking price is usually quite high compared to a Heineken green) and figure their asking price of $25 or $30 for their "authentic" Red sea glass necklace will sell immediately. After all, I always find that sea glass jewelers only have red sea glass...and nothing else.

Perhaps all of the above is due to the fact that authentic sea glass is exactly as Richard LaMotte described for his book... vanishing gems. In New Jersey, pieces wash up on the beach almost every day, but they are usually the common colors.... Budweiser browns, Heineken greens, and Corona clear. The surf here isn't rocky, nor rough, and most of the sea glass we find is not jewelry quality (but still so much fun to find!) Every so often we come across a rare color shard lying in the sand, but with the exception of a few key sea glassing days, finding those rare colors are few and far between.

Searching for sea glass has become a more popular beach-going event than tossing a frisbee. In the past few years, the amount of people who seem to be looking for sea glass has more than tripled. And with the popularity of the "Vanishing Gems" comes the perceived value...and worse, what some people will resort to, to find sea glass before others. I've watched people with nets, scooping along the shell beds in the surf, sometimes within just a foot or less of other people!

Not everything I've observed over the last few months is a negative. I have viewed several gorgeous pieces of sea glass... the owners of the shards were more than happy to show me the "gems" of their collections. I have also found some of the new sea glass jewelry makers to share the same sea glass values that I have (authentic only) and a few of them are quite talented!

No longer is the sea glass on the beach left to myself and a few other collectors. Being one of a few offering sea glass jewelry is a thing of the past also. Despite dwindling supplies, sea glass continues to move toward the mainstream and with it, the value continues to go up. ( and in the last few months, the value has sky-rocketed) But I'm always confident that there is a gem waiting for me at the beach, and as always, you can find me at the beach, looking down in hopes of finding it.

'til next time...



  1. Robin ~ you have a beautiful shop and product! Sea glass is starting to be a bit of a 'fad' as you've noted...it'll pass...keep doing what you do best! Your product is awesome!

  2. As a fellow artist in sea glass, I chuckled to myself as I read. Be sure "it's not just YOU"! Both of us being part of the SGASGC know authenticity is all the roar right now and rightly so. Your work is pure, strong and beautiful. There may be an influx of people trying their hand at this but I believe most will fall to the wayside. People are desperate because of the times and I think most are trying to be creative to generate income. As some try I have observed it challenges their integrity. Thus faux glass, partial truths about product, etc. It could get worse before it gets better. We just need to keep our hand to the plow so to speak and weather it out. We can do it...there is that Mermaid inside of us.:) Well written article.
    Fair Winds and Calm Seas, Deborah Leon