What is JQ Sea Glass?
JQ stands for Jewelry Quality, and is a type of sea glass that is either a solid color that is flawless and has a perfect shape for jewelry, or is multi-colored. Any “art glass,” as shown in the picture on the right of the header image, is usually considered jewelry quality.
I found this spectacular faceted piece of sea glass on the Mediterranean coast. It is wet in the picture to accentuate the facets, but when dry, it was a frosty, speckled cornflower blue.
Even though this is an ordinary green color of sea glass, it’s perfectly rectangular and thick, making it a good candidate for jewelry.
What is considered "Jewelry Quality" Sea Glass?
The image on the left is a piece of jewelry I had made from a perfectly round, bright blue piece of sea glass that I found in Spain. Even though cobalt blue is not that rare, the shape and the fact that it was flat on one side and slightly domed on the other, made it perfect for jewelry. Therefore, it would be considered “jewelry quality.”
Jewelry quality sea glass shouldn’t have any chips, cracks or other flaws. Many jewelers will be more forgiving if the piece is truly unique. However, if the color is common, they will expect the shape to be perfect. I have sold plain green pieces to jewelers because they were either a perfect teardrop, or round, which would be suitable for a ring.
What is Art Glass Sea Glass?
When reading about sea glass, you may see the term “art glass” used. Art Glass generally refers to glass that was used in a glass blowing facility to make decorative pieces. It is usually brightly colored and often has a white glass backing on it. When sea glass hunting near old glass factories, you are more likely to find multi-colored pieces. This is because the glass factories would typically push there leftover glass into the sea when they were finished with production.
The factories that I’m referring to were operating in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The glass that they disposed of in the sea, has had over a hundred years to get tumbled around and smoothed out by the waves and rocks. Today, it is quite difficult to find this kind of glass. It’s rapidly disappearing due to changing environmental laws and avid sea glass collectors popping up on beaches all over the world.
Since it is not being replenished, it has become quite rare and valuable. You can read my blog, “Is Sea Glass Disappearing?”
Multis versus Art Glass
Of the two pieces above, the one on the left from Seaham would be considered simply a “multi,” but the one on the right, from Spain, would be considered Art Glass.
The kind of “multis” found on the famed Seaham Beach usually aren’t considered true art glass unless they are brightly colored and/or have a white back. That is the kind of glass that was used for making vases and other decorative pieces.
Much of the multi-colored sea glass from Seaham, is dark until you shine a bright light through it, illuminating the colors inside. Once you see the difference, it’s easier to spot when sea glass hunting.
When I sell sea glass to jewelers, it is always easier to sell art glass than multis. Since Seaham has been so over-collected in recent years, it is more common to find those multis for sale online. However, art glass is still extremely hard to find, making it more valuable. There is a tremendous amount of research and travel that goes into finding the right locations. You would be hard-pressed to get any sea glass hunter who’s found a beach with art glass on it to divulge the location.
I reserve this website for selling my JQ sea glass, and sell my more common sea glass in Facebook auction groups like Tidelines & Beach Bounty.