Photo provided by Sea Glass Association
Photo provided by Sea Glass Association

Sea glass is not just a piece of glass that is frosted.  Authentic sea glass begins as broken glass that has been discarded in the ocean and tumbled naturally by waves and sand over many years.  It can take many decades for broken glass to become real sea glass.

Artificial sea glass or what I like to call “faux sea glass” has never been to sea.  Manmade tumbled glass originated in a factory, home studio or basement.  I have heard of “faux” sea glass being made in rock tumblers and cement mixers.  You can find detailed instructions on making “faux” glass on the Internet.

Dollar Store Faux Sea Glass
Dollar Store Faux Sea Glass

Authentic sea glass has become a vanishing gem.  Since the introduction of plastic bottles, there have been less and less glass bottles being produced.  Recycling efforts have reduced the amount of glass being deposited in our dumps and oceans. Also sea glass popularity has grown tremendously in the past decade, so there is less to be found on our beaches.

As supplies dwindle, the price of sea glass has become very expensive.  On a recent auction a piece of red sea glass sold for over $400.   No wonder there is motivation for folks to make and sell their fake glass.

So the question comes up  “How do I know if it is real”?

What should you look for?  Authentic sea glass has characteristics manmade glass cannot duplicate.  Nobody can do it like Mother Nature. The three characteristics I look for are, color, thickness and shape, and frosted with “c’ markings.

  1. Color

“Faux” glass comes is nearly all colors and are available in large quantities.  Rare colors selling cheaply should be a red flag.  Colors that you have never seen in a bottle should be another flag.  However, not all unusual colors are fake sea glass, so it becomes tricky.

coblat blue fakes


  1. Thickness and shape

Some real sea glass can be thin, but it is more likely to be thicker glass and its shape will sometimes have curvatures. Though natural sea glass can have angular shapes, if you see an assortment of sea glass that all has the same shape such as hearts and triangles, it is most likely man made.




  1. Frosted with pitting

Fake sea glass has a shiny or satiny appearance.   Genuine sea glass has a frosted surface.  The frosting is a result of a slow creation process that involves time, salt water, sand and rocks.  Sea glass from rivers and bays may not be as frosted as pieces from the ocean, but under very close scrutiny you will be able to detect very tiny “C’ marks on the surface of the glass.  These “C’s” cannot be reproduced in an artificial environment and are definitive proof that the shard is real sea glass.

Genuine Sea Glass
Genuine Sea Glass


So buyers beware.  Always ask the seller questions before you buy.  Just because the seller is advertising that they have sea glass, does not mean that the glass has ever been on a beach or in the ocean. Ask the seller where he or she found the sea glass. Inquire as to whether the seller is involved with the North American Sea Glass Association, an organization that allows only pure sea glass to be sold.

If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is. Sometimes a new seller of authentic sea glass does not know the value of the glass and will sell it cheaply.  This is the exception not the rule.

If photos online are blurry or unclear, always ask for additional photos before you bid on or buy the glass.

Sea glass continues to go up in price as supplies diminish.  Do your homework before buying sea glass or sea glass products.  The North American Sea Glass Association was formed to promote and educate the public about sea glass.  All commercial members of the association have to guarantee that their sea glass is the real thing.  It is a good reference point to begin with when looking to buy anything made from real sea glass.

5 thoughts on “Sea Glass: REAL OR ARTIFICIAL?

  1. Ram says:

    Hello my friend
    I am from India city veraval
    My home back side sea beautiful
    I have a many itme sea glass
    You want to buy loose sea glass
    So please contact me
    I will give you best price & beautiful items

    Thank you

  2. Cel says:

    I found a white and brown piece of frosted glass wash on the shore so i didn’t think much of these two pieces until i read this. The ends are rounded and the glass doesn’t have any pores. Its blurry and the frost is inside and it feels rough so i want to know if it is real.

    • Jo Frey says:

      The clue is usually where you found it. You said you found it on the shore. That gives it a high chance of being real. So far, I have not heard of people take frosted glass and dumping it on the shore to trick someone, so I feel safe in telling you it’s real, genuine sea glass.

      • Gail Barton says:

        unfortunately this is not always true. It has been a growing problem with people seeding the beach with glass. There is good articles on The North American Sea Glass Association webpage and blog. Also Beachcombing magazine has written articles on this subject.

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