Shelley Metcalf

Sea glass retains a timeless allure for collectors.

Lisa Palmer

Why all the fuss over fragments? "People know that sea glass isbecoming a rare commodity," says Richard LaMotte, author of Pure Sea Glass , a collectors' guide. The colorful baublesare actually rubbish―glass shards that have been polishedsmooth by waves, sand, and stone.

"My favorites are the thicker, frosted pieces," says CharlesPeden, owner of By theBay Treasures in Benicia, California. His personal collectionincludes weathered glass marbles, pre-1900 telephone insulators,bottlenecks from the 1700s, and greenish-black medicine bottles."Collecting sea glass is an affliction," he says with a laugh. "Ijust can't quit!"

Richard adds, "The magic of all this is that Mother Nature hasimproved something that was once trash. So many things in life arethis way. With time they become precious."

Expert Advice
Sea glass authority Richard LaMotte helped organize the NorthAmerican Sea Glass Festival in Santa Cruz. Here, he shares histips with treasure hunters.

• Search for sea glass after a strong storm or during aspring tide, which reveals vast expanses of sand.

• Focus on rare colors such as orange, black, red,turquoise, and yellow. Kelly green, brown, and white sea glass ismore common.

• Collect at will. Sea glass is not classified as naturalmaterial, so removing it from beaches is permitted.

• Seek highly prized round or oval sea glass, instead ofthe more typical triangular shape.

• Examine common features to date fragments. Remnants ofbottle tops and bases tell collectors whether the original piecewas machine-produced or handmade.

• Look for "crizzling," the pattern of subtle cracks thatappears in especially old sea glass shards.

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