Looking for Elusive Sea Glass
BY SHERRY WHITE
Special to The Pilot
Q. Is it true that pieces of glass you find on the beach can be valuable?
A. Yes. Many people search for sea glass, particularly colored glass. Although beaches are prime hunting grounds, lake shores are also popular sites. For beachcombers, the best chance of finding glass is at low tide, especially after storms.
Sea glass has been given the romantic nickname "mermaid's tears." Depending on the color and condition, some pieces can sell for hundreds of dollars, and sea glass jewelry can run into thousands.
The most common colors of glass shards are green and brown. According to experts, purples were most likely originally clear, but the manganese content slowly oxidized to create a purple hue. Blues, cobalt or cornflower are harder to find. Aqua and seafoam are rare, and true yellows and oranges rarer still. Red is extremely scarce and can be quite valuable.
Determining the age of found glass is tricky. It's estimated it takes 30 years of wave action and a high pH to smooth the edges and pit the glass surface. The color and how weathered or "cooked" the piece is often determine its value. Unusual shapes or lettering can sometimes help determine age, and some pieces have been traced back decades or even centuries. Because of recycling, beach replenishment and rising sea levels, glass bits are becoming harder to find.
Each year, avid sea glass sleuths attend the annual Sea Glass Association (NASGA) gathering, along with thousands of collectors and glass enthusiasts. A popular resource for sea glass information is Richard LaMotte's "Pure Sea Glass."
This information is provided by the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores. The state operates three public aquariums; one in Pine Knoll Shores, another at Fort Fisher and a third on Roanoke Island. The aquariums are administered by the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and are designed to inspire appreciation and conservation of North Carolina's aquatic environment.
For more information about the Aquariums, visit www.ncaquariums.com, or call (800) 832-FISH.
Sherry White works for the public affairs office of the N.C. Aquariums.
More like this story