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Saturday, November 10, 2012

Grading Sea Glass-- the long trip from beach to sale

Many of my friends think it's a lot of "fun" that beach comb and periodically sell some of the sea glass I find on the beach. A few suggest that they'd "like to do that, as well."

Can't say that I blame them... being able to make a few extra dollars from one of your hobbies is certainly a nice thing. But it's really not as simple as it looks. At least not if you take the "trade" seriously. In other words, there's more to it than walking around on the beach... and "BAM!" it's suddenly sold and you have money for a nice dinner.

A "choice" quality group of bright teal (or "lagoon blue-green") sea glass.
Did you know that every piece of sea glass is actually inspected FIVE TIMES before it goes out to a potential buyer?

First, I have a good look at everything when I pick it up on the beach. Anything with obvious chips or damage immediately gets tossed back.

Second, when I get home and sort the day's pickings by color-- and have better light-- more obviously defective pieces are rejected. They end up back in my backpack, and get tossed back in the ocean next time I am out.

Third, the "main" quality control step takes place when I select glass for a "lot" that will eventually end up on eBay or Etsy. Each color is sorted into "A" grade (about flawless), "B" grade (standard jewelry quality), "C" grade (minor faults, good for mosaics) and "D" grade (faulty rejects, going back to the beach).

Fourth, the glass gets a good looking over when I lay it out for photography. Sometimes I end up taking out a couple of flawed pieces and replacing them with something better.

Fifth, I look at each piece again when I have it out of the "lot envelope" to measure and describe it for sale. Although everything is pretty much "as it should be" by then, I do occasionally exchange a piece or two. This creates a bit of extra work because then I have to go back and take a new photo, reflecting the change.

The responses from aforementioned friends typically range from "wow, that sounds like a LOT of work!" to "why do you BOTHER?"

Well, it is a lot of work... and I "bother" because it is important to me to offer high consistency both in terms of color and quality. It's a system I used to build a couple of collectibles businesses... both of which have done well as a result of happy clients who always could feel confident that they would receive exactly what they were promised. When I decided to start selling sea glass, I saw no reason not to adapt the process to fit this particular "collectible."

In other news... I will probably be "out of the loop" for a while. My wife, Sarah, goes into hospital next week for surgery on her right shoulder. So I am going to "be her right arm" for a while... so I doubt there will be much time for sea glass, for a while.

So just in case, I'd like to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving, a Joyous Holiday Season and a Happy New Year!

1 comment:

Lori Bowring Michaud said...

So happy to have found your blog! I too am an avid beach walker & collector, here in the northeast. Unfortunately, I do not find the colors and quality that you do - though every now and again I do break out into a happy dance on the beach! Hope your wife's surgery went well.

About Me

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1960 vintage Danish national now living in the Pacific Northwest... active in the global HSP community; active beach comber and sea glass collector; lifetime collector of postage stamps from Scandinavia; writer and consultant, primarily to the metaphysics and self-help industries, writer at OM Times magazine; artist who doodles on rocks; eBay & Etsy entrepreneur and studio and production assistant at Radio Nahmaste.

Diverse enough for you?