|Opaque yellow sea glass bead|
Today, I'll take a look at a type of sea glass that typically did NOT start as "broken glass," namely sea glass BEADS.
Beads-- as sea glass-- tend to be fairly rare. For one, beads are usually pretty small, so they can be hard to spot, when you are beach combing. In addition, since they are small, it doesn't take a whole lot of rough surf and being beaten against rocks before they completely wear away.
The good news about beads as sea glass is that when you DO find them, they are typically in "whole" condition-- this is not a shape that usually suffers a lot of breakage. Of course, that doesn't automatically mean that they can be used for jewelry, since most tend to have small rocks and grains of sand lodged in the original hole (see photos)-- and these can sometimes be impossible to dislodge, without breaking the bead.
|Very rare squared bright green bead|
Most sea glass beads have very humble and "common" origins. A great "treasure" for a sea glass hunter would be to find a "sea glassed" antique trade bead, made in Venice... and perhaps used for trade in Africa or Asia. Since these can cost several dollars each from bead stores, they are very unlikely to have been discarded.
As stated above, sea glass beads are quite rare. And they are getting rarer, because they are one of the few kinds of "discarded glass" that was almost always processed through a trash dump-- and since trash is no longer thrown in the ocean as a means of disposal, there are really no more sea glass beads being created.
|A rare deep turquoise bead|
I say "relatively speaking," because no matter what color it may be, a sea glass bead is something I only find as maybe 1-in-5000 pieces of sea glass, overall. In the course of 40-odd years, I have only collected only maybe 25-30 whole beads, and at least half of them were tiny round opaque reds ("seed beads")-- some of which I almost didn't pick up at all, because I was thinking "no, that's just TOO small for anyone to care about."
As an interesting aside, I actually had several beads in my sea glass collection for years without knowing they were beads. I had collected them and decided they were just "a small piece of round glass with a grain of sand embedded at one end." Had I taken the time to hold them up to the light, I would have noticed they had a hole running all the way through them! I bet I am not the only sea glass collector who has had an experience like that.
|Red sea glass bead. Note the sand in the hole.|