by Michele Buckler – Sand N Stones- 112 Front St. Lewes, DE
Long ago before we became “Green” conscious, we use to throw large portions of trash into bodies of water. Few ever gave a second thought to what happened to the trash once it got there. It would roll around in the sea for many years, some would break down and disappear, and others would wash back up on our shores.
Beachcombers use to walk the beaches and pick up glass seeing it as liter from long ago, others collected it, intrigued by its colors and shapes. It was not until Richard LaMotte wrote “Pure Sea Glass” in 2004, which told us of the value, where the glass could have come from, about the colors and the rarity of those colors.In 2009 he came out with a supplement to his book called “Pure Sea Glass Identification Cards, and in 2015 The Lure Of Sea Glass.
Genuine or Natural “Tide Tumbled” Sea Glass (also known as beach glass, mermaid’s tears, and Old Salts, Salties, many other names) is formed when any piece of glass (mostly bottles, tableware, windows, insulators, marbles, bonfire glass, ship wrecks, etc.) made their way into large bodies of water. The waves breaking them down, turning glass into shards, usually in triangular shape. The currents would move the glass over sandy surfaces smoothing the edges. Over several decades, the acidity of the water would give it a frosting turning glass into sea glass. It takes 50+ years for the acidity to eat away enough glass to make seaglass.
Many people are wondering why it is getting harder to find sea glass; there are different theories about this. More things are made of plastic today instead of glass. Some say it’s because most beaches have a carry in carry out policy. Can you remember when there were trash cans on the beaches? We are doing more recycling so we are not polluting as much as we once did. The process of beach restoration is pumping the sand from way out covering up the glass, there are also more beaches that are manicured, so they collect the shells, stones and sea glass, and use it for other purposes such as driveways. Most people say it is because more people are collecting it.
Beachcombers have found that they enjoy picking up sea glass, and displaying them in containers in their homes similar to those who enjoy gathering shells, stones and sea pottery. Authors have written about sea glass, Artisans have found ways to incorporate sea glass in their jewelry, photographs and paintings. Others have found ways to use the glass into everyday items such as sun catchers and candles. Some enjoy trying to identify its original origins.
“When I find a piece of sea glass it is like finding a missing piece of the puzzle.”
A few people have tried, unsuccessfully, to copy “Mother Nature’s” work by tumbling or etching the glass, called Ersatz sea glass. Zrsatz sea glass (fake, faux or Earth glass) has a certain appeal to some and is less expensive to buy, but to a true collector it cannot match the beauty or value that natural sea glass has. It is one of the few man-made things that get more desirable after it has been discarded and weathered by the elements.
Most beaches have sea glass some are better than others. You can do some research and find out if there were any shipwrecks near by, or what the beach or body of water was used for? Once you have found a beach that you want to collect glass from, it is best to look for glass during a full or new moon in the Fall and early Spring at low tide. But the most important thing about “sea glassing” is don’t tell others where you find your treasures.
You can bring your Sea Glass that you have found into Sand N Stones and Michele will be happy to custom wire wrap it for you in either 14k gf, Anti-Tarnish Sterling Silver (Argentium), or a combination of both. Michele usually makes pendants, pin, or earrings out of the Sea Glass.
Sand N Stones, Delaware & Nature Shoppe, “Your One Stop Sea Glass Shop!”
Your local Antique Bottle Club
I asked an Archaeologist one day if there was a way to save the shards that I find on the beach from crumbling over time. She told me… Pottery Shards are very pores, and when they have been in salt water for many years, the salt gets inside of the pottery, and since salt is a drying agent it could over time make the pottery crumble. She suggested that I soak the pottery shards in half distilled vinegar and half distilled water in a glass jar with a lid for a week or so. She explained that the vinegar was a drawling agent and it will drawl the salt out of the pottery. When you take the pottery out of the jar it will have a slight vinegar smell to it but the smell goes away in a few days. She told me that this will not change the pattern on any designs on the pottery if there is any left, remember when we dye Easter eggs we use the white vinegar to set the dye on the egg.
Orange Natural Sea Glass, Orange is the rarest of the sea glass colors.
I have collected sea glass since I was six-year-old. One of my biggest pet peeves is that people are selling man-made sea glass as real sea glass. Several people have come into Sand N Stones asking me if there is a way to tell the difference between real sea glass and man-made sea glass. The answer is yes and no. If we look at the definition of Seaglass…. Any piece of glass that has found its way in a large body of water, the waves brake it up, the current tumbles it along and it is the acidity of the water, eating away at the glass that gives it the frosting that we love. It takes 50 or more years to make a piece of glass into a piece of seaglass.
The acid is what gives the glass a frosty look and gives it that nice almost “gritty” feeling, which is so desirable. However, as we also know the acid in body of water varies from place to place. Making it a bit more difficult.
When glass is tumbled in a rock tumbler, which is one of the ways that people make so-called sea glass, it has a silky smooth feel to it, very much like tumbled rocks would.
Natural Turquoise blue sea glass wire framed pendant from Sand N Stones in Lewes, DE
Another way you can tell sea glass from man-made seaglass is the shape. Glass fractures in a triangular like shape. It does not break in a perfect square or circle shape. If the object has been broken and it is in any other shape other than a somewhat triangular like shape you can question that it may be man-made sea glass. However, if the object has not been broken by the waves, or the glass hitting something like a rock, and it was originally round such as this brake light it could be true sea glass. The brake light pictured is an example of that, which you can see at Sand N Stones. Also if you find two pieces of sea glass that are identical, glass does not fracture the same twice, you want your red flag to go up, and start asking questions is this real sea glass or man-made.
Richard LaMotte who is known as the God Father of Sea Glass wrote the first true book dedicated to learning about these vanishing gems Pure Sea Glass and is know as the Bible of Sea Glass he has also published the Lure Of Sea Glass and Pure Sea Glass Identification cards.
Another good book about sea glass is CS Lamber’s book Sea Glass Hunters Handbook. This also gives you a list of beaches broken down by State and Country where you may be able to find Sea Glass. However, I have found that sea glass is getting harder and harder to find even at some of my personal best beaches, that is why I believe “man made sea glass” is being made.
Sandy Delaware Sandflakes TM Ornaments are made with genuine Delaware sand located off the Delaware Bay. Handcrafted locally here in Delaware especially for Sand N Stones. We currently have 2 different sizes and 2 different snowflake styles. The largest of the sandflakes TM measures 5.5 inches square. Each snowflake is unique and since they are make from genuine Delaware Beach Sand no two are exactly alike. Keep the memories of your favorite beach with you through the winter season.
Growing up in Delaware, Michele Buckler, owner of Sand N Stones, Delaware and Nature Shop has some of her best memories walking the beaches, looking for beach treasures and feeling the cool sand between her toes. Over the years, sea glass, shells, beach pebbles, and Delaware Bay Diamonds have gotten harder to find. However, one thing that has always been there is the sand! Michele wanted to find a way to preserve the warm memories she hopes that we all have and the feeling that we get while walking our Delaware beaches. Talking to many customers about their love for our beaches, several people have asked Michele for ornaments from the area.
Michele contacted some of her local artisan friends and came up with idea of “Sandy Delaware”. Each year, Sand N Stones will release an exclusive new ornament made from “Delaware Sand”. This year, 2015-2016 there will be several sizes and styles of “Lewes Sandflakes” and the shape of Delaware, made from sand. Each ornament looks as timeless and is delicate as the sand itself, yet will hold its integrity for many years to come.
“No matter where life takes you, we hope that Sandy Delaware Ornaments touches your hearts and brings you warm memories.”
If you would like more information about Sandy Delaware, please contact Michele Buckler at Sand N Stones, 112 Front Street, Lewes, Delaware 302-270-7027 or email at email@example.com website www.SandNStones.com follow us on Facebook
AKA Cape May Diamonds
The Delaware Bay Diamonds are quartz crystals, resembling translucent pebbles. They begin their lives truly “in-the-rough” in the upper reaches of the Delaware River, in the areas around the Delaware Water Gap. Pieces of quartz crystal are broken off from veins and pockets by the water current from mountain streams that feed into the river. Thus begins a journey of more than 200 miles that takes thousands of years to complete. Along the way, the sharp edges of the stones are smoothed as they are tumbled along the river bottom to the bay on rapid river currents. Eventually the stones come to rest on the shores of the Delaware Bay in South New Jersey and Southern Delaware.
Thousands of vacationers from Cape May and the Delaware Beach area come each year search for these sparkling crystals that, when cut and faceted, have the appearance of real diamonds. The largest concentration is on the sands of Sunset Beach in Cape May Point. The ship wreck, Atlantis and a rocky jetties trap the stones, which are forced ashore in large quantities just prior to being swept by the tides into the Atlantic Ocean.
Some days the stones are more plentiful than others. Would-be prospectors should come equipped with a beach bucket, sand shovel, and a beach sieve to shake off sand. Typical stones are about the size of a pea and come in different shapes and colors. “Much of the time, larger stones the size of marbles are just underneath a layer of smaller ones,” advises Kathy Hume. Finds as large as eggs have been reported. On one occasion, a gem weighing over one pound was found. Prospectors may also find sharks’ teeth, Indian arrowheads, agates, and black quartz.
Some gift shops at Sunset Beach sell Delaware Bay Diamond jewelry. These pieces are made from gems that have been smoothed and polished in rock
tumblers or cut and faceted. When they are faceted, these gems have the appearance of a genuine diamonds and before the advent of modern gem scanning equipment, many a pawn broker was fooled by the “Delaware Bay Diamond.” Sand N Stones, Delaware and Nature Shoppe in Lewes, Delaware likes to wrap the stone in its natural state, as well as tumbled and they make wonderful souvenirs from the beach.
Delaware Bay Diamonds may have more than just monetary or sentimental value. In an earlier time, the local Kechemeche Indians, a part of the Lenni-Lenape tribe, believed the gems had supernatural powers to influence the well-being and good fortune of their possessor. The bonds of friendship and lasting goodwill were often sealed with gifts or exchanges of the sacred gems or for trading with other tribes and with the newly arriving European colonists.
This was especially true of those gems which were larger and free of any flaws. One of the largest “Cape May Diamonds” was presented to an early settler, Christopher Leaming, by King Nummy, last chief of the Lenni-Lenape. King Nummy received the gem from the Kechemeche as a tribute to him and as proof of their faithfulness and loyalty. Mr. Leaming had the stone sent back to the old country, Amsterdam, Holland. A lapidary expertly cut and polished the stone into a most beautiful gem.
Historically, the southeast portion of New Jersey contained many glass manufacturers, and Delaware Bay Diamonds are often attributed incorrectly to glass remnants, or sea glass discarded by these sources, which were then washed down the Delaware River until they were tumbled in a smoothed on local beaches. Delaware Bay Diamonds are more rounded like that of a grape or pea, where as sea glass tends to be more triangular in shape.
A gentleman came into Sand N Stones, one day, and I was telling him about the Delaware Bay Diamonds, AKA Cape May Diamonds. He told me of how the Cape May Diamond truly got it name. There was a gentleman, who dated his Aunt, who was a rock hound and had been collecting these clear quartz off the beaches of Cape May. One year a Gem Show came to Cape May, New Jersey, and this gentleman wanted to participate in the show. So he filled out the application, when he was asked what he would be selling he put clear quartz stones found on the beaches of Cape May. They would not allow him into the show because the sponsors did not feel that they were the type of stones/gems that they represented in their show. that it was a gem show. He took his case to court. He told the judge that these beach stones were actually Cape May Diamonds. He stated that a Presidential figure (he did not remember which one) was walking the beach and saw these stones that when he held them up he saw a rainbow like are ”fire” in the stones, very similar to what Diamonds have, and he called them Cape May Diamonds. He won the case and participated in the show. The gentleman in the store told me that Rock Hound made up the story so that he could win the case and participate in the show.
The one that I have wrapped pictured are still in its natural rough state. I have not tumbled it, I personally like that frosted natural state of the Delaware Bay Diamonds. To me they have the texture like sea glass, yet they are from the mineral world. If you would like, I will be happy to wrap one that you have found, however, it needs to be close to the size of a dime for me to be able to wrap it.
Recently I have learned that you can also find Bay Diamonds in the Chesapeake Bay as well, however they are a bit darker and some are even a bit greyish black.
Bonfire Glass: is glass that has been in a fire, such as beach bonfires, building fires, and landfill burns. These pieces of glass pictured were formed when glass was thrown into a bonfire and melted (glass melts at 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit) and when high tide comes in cools the glass very quickly. Sometimes you get neat things trapped inside of the glass like sand, pebbles, other bottles layer together and ash. Sometimes when the glass has become molten it is very difficult to identify what the glass was originally.
Here are a list of Sea Glass festivals on the East Coast. I am NOT claiming that this is a complete list since new festival roll in from time to time.
Sea Glass, Seafood and See Birds in Queen Anne Co.
The Seaglass swap will be Saturday, March 9, 2013 from 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center and the Queen Anne’s County Department of Economic Development and Tourism, 600 Discovery Lane, Grasonville, MD 21638, will be holding a full month of events featuring Sea Glass. They are currently looking for vendors. For More Information: Heather C. Taylor 410.604.2100 or Debbie Birch 410.604.2100
Chesapeake Upcycled Art Festival – St Michaels Art League- May 12, 2012
The Lewes, Delaware, Historical Society puts on the Mid-Atlantic Sea Glass and Coastal Arts Festival each year at the Lewes Historical Complex. This event is always held the last weekend in June. The Festival attracts Sea Glass artisans as well a Coastal Arts artists including decoy carvers and other waterfowl artisans.
MERMAID TEARS SEA GLASS FESTIVAL – PEI, Canada July 21-22, 2012
North American Sea Glass Association (NASGA) puts a Festival each year, this is the largest Sea Glass Festival in the United States at this time. This show travels each year to a different location. There will be Artisan Exhibits, Shard Identification, Lectures and Presentations, and of course the $1,000 Shard of the Year Contest. www.facebook.com/NorthAmericanSeaGlassFest
International Beachcombing Conference, Sea Glass & Beach Arts Bazaar, This will be the 4th Annual Beachcombing Conference and Arts Bazaar. More info will be available on their web-site as it develops. For more information please contact Dr. Beachcomber, Jay Taylor 302-645-4110 or Sharon Douglas 410-320-0662
Sea Glass Day on the Bay in October, Queen Anne’s County, Maryland
SEA BEAN SYMPOSIUM, Cocoa Beach, FLA – Oct. 11-12, 2012
By Carol Fezuk
This article was written in The Best Places In Town Complimentary Summer/Fall 08 edition.
The Southern Delaware resort are will welcome Sea glass lovers from around the world on October 11th and 12th 2008, when the Third Annual North American Sea Glass Festival commences at the Virden Conference Center on the University of Delaware campus in Lewes.
This year, with ever-increasing numbers of sea glass professionals and treasure hunters looking to connect, the Festival hopes to draw an even larger international audience of collectors, artisans, nationally-known authors, and basic beachcombers interested in swapping sea glass stories; exhibiting their art and craftsmanship and sharing their tiny treasures with others of like mind.
According to the festival’s local contact, Michele Buckler owner of Sand N Stones, Delaware & Nature Shop in Lewes , “In addition to lectures and seminars, the international ‘Shard of the Year’ contest will be held, awarding a $1,000.00 cash prize to the collector with the most rare and desirable piece of sea glass,” Last year’s SOTY contest, sponsored by the North American Sea Glass Association (NASGA), attracted over 900 entries, with a rare orange hear shape shard of sea glass taking home the prize money.
“Some of this year’s festival exhibitors are really rather renowned- they’ve been featured on popular television shows like The Today Show, Martha Steward Living, and in the Washington Post…” says Richard LaMotte, author of Pure Sea Glass and NASGA Vice President- a.k.a. The founding father of the Sea Glass community. LaMotte expects over 2,500 attendees, artists, and collectors at this year’s festival. Visitors from destinations in Europe, Canada and the United States including California, Hawaii, and Washington will converge on the first town in the First State for this unique event.
According to the organization’s website www.seaglassassociation.org , NASGA was formed by a group of professional sea glass collector, authors, artisan and retailers. Their primary goal is to establish a community of informed collectors and sellers of sea glass that is educated on the characteristics and significance, properties and benefits of genuine, pure, sea glass.
In order to maintain the value of genuine beach sea glass, through education, NASGA also established guidelines to differentiate genuine from fake sea glass and standard to which to grade and appraise sea glass.
Genuine sea glass is formed when vintage glass, (beer, water, pharmaceutical bottles, jars, and other vessels) enter the ocean waters through shipwrecks and other natural disasters like hurricanes or an all-too-familiar Delaware Nor’easter. As the glass surface weakens for the action of water, waves and tide it breaks into shards. It is further subjected to corrosive elements, pitting, other natural forces and tumbling actions, yielding pure sea glass with its unique look.
This process can take from fifty to one hundred years, finally producing a quality shard with the customary pores, frost, and luster.
Fake/faux sea glass is created quickly by tumbling or etching by mechanical means and seldom has uneven texture because of the tumbler’s uniformity of design. Modern glass’s chemical etching leaves no pores. Even though fake/faux sea glass has a certain appeal and is less expensive to purchase, it does not have the beauty or value of naturally formed sea glass.
It’s All About the Color
The most common glass bottle colors in the 1800’s were blue-green, green, and brown glass. But by the 1900’s new technology introduced color removing additives and clear glass became the rage.
However, after years of sun exposure the once clear glass turns a subtle arrays of pastel colors like lavender and pale yellow. Orange and red are two of the rarest colors of sea glass.
Supply and demand also helped to make certain colored glass extremely rare for collectors. For instance, in the making of red glass gold ore was added as an ingredient in the glass recipe. Gold was, (and still is!) an expensive ingredient so it was used sparingly. Yellow is also a rare color because the selenium, silver, and uranium dioxide used in the recipe were also costly and scarce ingredients for glass production.
Other unusual, hard to come by sea glass colors are: amber, black, cobalt and cornflower blue, gray, jade green, opaque whites, pink, teal, turquoise, yellow-green, soft greens and purples.
In his book Pure Sea Glass, Discovering Nature’s Vanishing Gems LaMotte categorizes sea glass colors by rarity. He list as extremely rare: orange, red, turquoise, yellow, black, teal and gray. On his rare are: pink, aqua, cornflower blue, cobalt blue, opaque white, citron, and purple/amethyst. Listed as uncommon are: soft green, soft blue, forest green, lime green, golden amber, amber and jade. And finally the common colors: Kelly green, brown, white (clear).
The book’s color rating scale is based on an intensive study of more than 30,000 pieces of sea glass. It enables readers to determine the rarity of each piece in their own collection. Pure Sea Glass is available in Lewes at Cape Henlopen State Park/Seaside Nature Center, Sand N Stones and Packard Reath Gallery; in Dewey at A Way of Life, The Indian River Life Saving Station, and Books and Coffee; or in Rehoboth Beach at Odysea and Browse about Books.
Where Does It Come From?
The most common source of sea glass is mass produced glass bottles for the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Some collectors consider collection sea glass, “a form of archaeology” since these vintage relics lay under water for hundreds of years.
Discovered on beaches in shifting tides, where heavy shipping traffic occurred, these well-worn glass pieces pounded by nature’s elements, can resemble precious gems with frosted surfaces, rounded edges, and an interesting range of colors. Turn-of-the-century coastal resort areas with their abundance of tourists and their trash are and excellent source for sea glass.
Tips for Beginning Your Sea Glass Hunt
Ask about ships that wrecked offshore and where the popular beaches from the 1800-1900’s were located. Seek out nautical charts and local maps to locate channels near accessible shorelines.
Talk to waterman. Ask about where the high shipping traffic occurred, circa 1900. Once you have narrowed your “collection zones, it’s best to look for sea glass during full or new moons, particularly in the fall and in early spring after wind and waves have washed up pebbles, shells, and sea glass over the beaches. Remember to scavenge the high- and low-tide lines where stones or pebbles have gathered into beds. To protect your back, pack a stick or shovel to sift through the fertile zones.
Perhaps most important: don’t tell others where you think you’ll find your best sea glass treasure or it may be snatched away before you get to it! Happy Hunting.
The North American Sea glass Festival has grown significantly, since the Lewes Festival. It is the biggest authentic Sea Glass Festival to date, and is held in a different part of the United States each year. To Find Out More about the Sea Glass Festival. go to their website North American Sea Glass Association.org and follow them on Facebook/seaglassassociation.
The 2008 The North American Sea Glass Festival was a huge success in Lewes, so much so, that the Lewes Historical Society started a yearly Sea Glass and Coastal Arts Festival which takes place towards the end of June each year.
I have been working on my website lately and have been including the Moh Scale of Hardness as part of the description. My father was looking over my website, and asked me what the Moh Scale was. I tried to explain it to him, and thought maybe you would like to know as well. It is important to know the Moh Scale for jewelry to determine how durable the stone is, and how you would wear the piece of jewelry. For example you may not want to wear a soft stone as ring, since we are usually hard on our hands and a soft stone would scratch easily, but you could wear a softer stone as earrings.
In 1812 the Moh’s scale of mineral hardness was devised by the German mineralogist Frederich Mohs (1773-1839). He selected the ten minerals because they were common or readily available. The scale is not a linear scale, but somewhat arbitrary.
Some minerals are very soft; others are very hard. The degree of hardness is an aid in identifying the minerals. Diamonds are harder than quartz and will therefore scratch quartz, quartz will scratch calcite, calcite will scratch gypsum, and so on. To help identify minerals, geologists have assigned numbers to the hardness of several minerals. In this hardness scale, the softer minerals are assigned a low number and the harder minerals a higher number.
In the field, an easy way of estimating the hardness of a mineral is by trying to scratch it with common objects such as a fingernail with a hardness of 2.5, a penny is the hardness of a 3, or a pocketknife, hardness 5.5. Glass has a hardness of slightly less than 6 and will scratch most minerals. Anything on the Moh’s scale that is less than a 7 is easily scratched.
Hardness Mineral Associations and Uses
2.5-3 -Gold, Silver
3 -Copper penny
5.5- Knife blade
6.5- Iron pyrite
7+- Hardened steel file
To test a mineral for hardness, try to scratch it with one of these common objects. For example, a sample can be scratched by the knife (H=5.5) but NOT by the penny (H=3). Therefore, the sample has a hardness of about 4. Using other property tests that you will learn in lab, you then determine that the mineral is calcite.
The Moh’s Scale of Mineral Hardness goes as follows….
1 is Talc- Talcum powder.
2 is Gypsum- Plaster of Paris. Gypsum is formed when seawater evaporates from the Earth’s surface
3 is Calcite- Limestone and most shells contain calcite
4 is Fluorite- Fluorine in fluorite prevents tooth decay.
5 is Apatite- When you are hungry you have a big “appetite”.
6 is Orthoclase- Orthoclase is a feldspar, and in German, “feld” means “field
7 is Quartz
8 is Topaz- The November birthstone. Emerald and aquamarine are varieties of beryl with a hardness of 8.
9 is Corundum- Corundum Sapphire and ruby are varieties of corundum. Twice as hard as topaz.
10 is Diamond- Used in jewelry and cutting tools. Four times as hard as corundum
Sea glass is on a Moh scale of a 6-7 and that is why I do not recommend sea glass for rings. We are extremely hard on our hands and wrist and tend to bang them around, and as we all know glass will break. I do recommend using seaglass in pendants or in earrings.
Delaware Bay Diamonds are clear quartz crystals and have a Moh scale of a 7 and is fine to make jewelry out of.
How to Perform the Test
1. Select a fresh surface
2. Hold the sample and attempt to scratch it with the point of an object of known hardness, start at the higher (harder) end of the scale and work down. In this example, we use a sharp quartz crystal (Hardness = 6)
3. Press the object firmly but lightly against the unknown sample
4. If the test object is harder, you should see and feel a definite “bite” into the sample
5. Inspect for an etched line
In this case, we notice a deep scratch in the sample, which indicates it’s hardness is less than 6 . Repeat several times, always with a sharp point and a fresh surface.
You Might Be A Rockhound If…