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Sea Glass Beads, Glass Jewelry Beads
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Buy Sea and Beach Glass Beads?
Or make them yourself?
Are you looking for beach glass beads for a beading or jewelry project? Then this is very mportant - how to tell the real thing from the imitation. Also, how to make sea glass jewelry beads.
On this page:
How to Make Glass Beads with Beach Glass
Purchasing Sea or Beach Glass Beads
Identifying Genuine Sea Glass Jewelry Beads
Avoiding Error When Purchasing Sea Glass Beads
1. How to Make Glass Beads with Beach Glass
Beads made of sea glass (these are usually smaller pieces of sea glass that have been drilled through) will definitely add excitement and variety to many sea glass crafts projects. And, if you're a beader, these will add charm and personality to your beading crafts.
That said, the making of beads out of sea glass can be a challenge to get the right pressure so you don't break them while drilling.
You'll need to have the proper diamond drill bits and a jewelry drill such as a Dremel or similar drill.
Step-by-Step: Drill a Hole in Glass
1. Place glass to be drilled on top of a sponge in a container filled with enough water to cover the glass and about 1/4 inch of the drill bit.
2. To prevent skipping, hold bit at an angle and create a groove.
3. Once you have a groove started, drill straight down using light pressure until the hole is complete.
4. To avoid undue chipping, drill half way from one side of the sea glass, then turn it over and finish drilling from the other side.
( Click here and scroll down for photos of how to do this.)
Start with larger pieces of sea glass. The smaller the beads, the harder to drill. Also, there is an approximate 5-10% breakage rate when drilling sea glass.
As you become more adept at drilling, move on to smaller pieces. Expect breakage and don't practice on your rare pieces!
Use your craft quality pieces to practice on as opposed to your good jewelry quality pieces.
2. Purchasing Sea or Beach Glass Jewelry Beads
If you'd rather purchase sea or beach glass beads take note of the following tips:
First, beads that are advertised on the internet as real sea glass are not actually real sea glass in most cases (see the quotes from misleading sales hype).
- If you're happy with imitation sea glass beads that's fine but don't be misled into thinking you're getting the real thing.
3. Identifying Genuine Sea Glass Jewelry Beads
There are two types of real or genuine sea or beach glass beads.
- First, there are "trade beads" that were used to trade with indigenous people for furs, etc, as well as glass beads originally from ornaments, lamps, chandeliers, et cetera.
Read how Lin found it!
- These ended up in the surfline of the ocean and became tumbled and worn like all true sea glass and then were found by a collector on a beach.
- They're extremely rare, and it would be highly unlikely to find them for sale anywhere because collectors have a tendency to hold onto these prized possessions.
- Second, there are true pieces of genuine sea glass that have been drilled and become irregularly shaped sea glass "beads."
You'll not find them all uniform in shape like the beads for sale all on a string.
They're easily recognizable by the following features:
I won't say this never happens but it would be very rare to see.
- No two "beads" would be alike in shape or size.
- Rarely if ever would the bead be perfectly round or oval.
The beads would never be shiny; rather, they would have the true sea glass tumbled look to them. (See the page on sea glass quality.)
- If a bead is a rare color, it would be highly unlikely to be matched to another similar bead in shape.
If you see, let's say, a bracelet for sale that has had the sea glass drilled to be used as jewelry beads and the beads are all uniform in shape, size, and are a rare color, I'd be suspicious, especially if it was selling for $30.
True rare jewelry quality pieces, especially those used in necklaces, would be way more expensive.
In fact, if it's a rare color of jewelry quality, you probably wouldn't find a bunch of rare color jewelry quality pieces used as beads on an inexpensive bracelet or necklace.
I personally would refrain from drilling one piece of rare color if it was jewelry quality let alone 6 of them for a necklace. That's just my personal preference though.
I've seen people drill rare pieces of sea glass to use as beads but I'm pretty sure those pieces were not Jewelry A Quality.
Also keep in mind certain colors have a tendency to be more brittle and therefore break easier than other colors. It must have to do with their chemical composition. (See the sea glass color rarity chart.)
4. Avoiding Error When Purchasing Sea Glass Beads
If a seller says "Sea Glass Beads" or beach glass beads, one would think that they were selling real sea glass.
Unfortunately, that isn't always the case. We strongly feel that if the beads aren't genuine, the seller should state "faux" or "imitation" sea glass beads or otherwise clearly state that the beads are not true, genuine sea glass.
However, just looking at one page on eBay, we found these quotes. Note that the wording isn't upfront and an unwary customer could easily get taken in and believe they were getting the genuine thing:
Note: None of the following sellers were selling genuine sea genuine sea glass:
"Frosted Beach Glass Beads - Chunky Colors of the Sea - This auction is offering three strands of chunky frosted beach glass beads..." This seller does add "All beads are in excellent, unused condition." Unused sea glass???
- "Bead frosted sea glass twisted bugle glass" "Unusual sheer frost glass with a slight twist fine jewelry gems"
"100 Exquisite Black Sea Glass Rondelle Beads" The description page did not mention anything about sea glass.
- "SEA GLASS -GREEN AGATE NECKLACE" - "...The Buy-It-Now price is for One Strand of these Beautiful Frosted Sea Beach Glass Beads."
- "sea glass white frost glass seed spacer bead..." - "Barely there ab coating on frosted sea glass beads"
"Chinese Sea Glass Beads" - "We have an extensive collection of Chinese Sea Glass Beads." This advertiser did add somewhere in the description: ""Chinese Sea glass is a tumbled glass made in China that is reminiscent of real sea glass..."
A prominent bead shop on Google - "Sea Glass Round Bead Strand, White..." This site offered a variety of "sea glass" beads and necklaces without any indication that these were fake sea glass beads.
So the gist of it all is that since there is no regulation of the terms used, it's "Buyer Beware!"
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