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!Karen
04-14-2004, 02:50 PM
Is there any sure way to tell glass beads from shell beads?

I have an antique American Indian piece that will be worth quite a bit more if it is made with shell. Just not sure how to distinguish that it is.

I know about the hot needle test with ivory and fake ivory, but don't think it would apply here.

Any suggestions?

Thanks,
:)Karen

Retta Gates
04-14-2004, 02:54 PM
I can usually tell but I would have to see it. Shell usually has a strange lumoneicent quality... :)

!Karen
04-14-2004, 02:57 PM
I'll see if I can get some close pictures and post them.
Thanks!

!Karen
04-14-2004, 05:46 PM
Ack!! I've got to unpack a couple boxes and find the poor thing first. Pics will be later or tomorrow depending on my luck with guessing which box.

I've only lived here three years; I still have boxes packed. Pathetic!

:)Karen

!Karen
04-14-2004, 06:27 PM
First time lucky! First box I opened.

don't know if you can tell much from these pics, I tried to get as close as possible.

Let me know if you need, or care to see any other aspect of this pouch.

The beads are cylinder-shaped.
a little shy of 8mm long and about 2.5mm thick
The beads have striations in them, hard to tell under all the dirt. The color variance is slight, but you can see it up close & personal. Especially the white beads.

They are so dirty but I am afraid to clean it. The leather part of the bag is very fragile, but I guess the beads would hold up to some soap & water??

Thanks,
:)Karen

sassybird
04-15-2004, 12:13 AM
I use the same test that I do with pearls. I rub them against my teeth. If they are grainy then it is shell, smooth it is glass.

!Karen
04-15-2004, 12:52 AM
I use the same test that I do with pearls. I rub them against my teeth. If they are grainy then it is shell, smooth it is glass.

I wondered about that as I use the teeth test for pearls too.

But, ahh...that plan makes up my mind, they MUST be washed!! I'm not putting that in my mouth!! LOL, hundreds of years of crud, heaven only knows what is on that thing!

Thanks for the suggestion, I'll check it out tomorrow.

:)Karen

sassybird
04-15-2004, 02:09 AM
I wondered about that as I use the teeth test for pearls too.

But, ahh...that plan makes up my mind, they MUST be washed!! I'm not putting that in my mouth!! LOL, hundreds of years of crud, heaven only knows what is on that thing!

Thanks for the suggestion, I'll check it out tomorrow.

:)Karen

ROFL Come on now:D There can't be much living on them:evil::angel:

Cyndi L
04-15-2004, 07:14 AM
Is there any chance that they're bone or quill? How heavy do they seem? Glass is quite a bit heavier than shell, bone, or quill. Shell is heavy relative to bone and quill. Sometimes it's a comparison game ~ look at them and feel them *next to* something that you know the composition of.

beclectic
04-15-2004, 08:47 AM
They are so dirty but I am afraid to clean it. The leather part of the bag is very fragile, but I guess the beads would hold up to some soap & water??

Thanks,
:)Karen

I don't think cleaning them with soap and water is a good idea. The stringing material may not take kindly to water. I would use something on a cloth or cotton and clean each bead. I might use unscented baby wipes and try a bit of one bead just to make sure it didn't harm it in any way before I proceeded to clean them all. Be especially careful of the colored ones, if they are painted the paint could come right off.

joycerenee
04-15-2004, 09:32 AM
Karen, I agree with Cyndi. They look like bone to me. They don't have that luminescent quality that shell has. I have some bone buttons that look like that.

Joy

chuckie
04-15-2004, 12:40 PM
Possibly glass? Look at the shine on the beads in the third photo, first row on the right, first four whole beads you can see (don't count the partial at the top). Also, the fourth whole bead on the next row over has a translucent look, almost as if you can see the center string through translucent glass.

The striations are common in glass beads of that age and shape. There's still the possibility it is shell, but my guess is glass. Neat find whether it's glass or shell.

Char

Fyrsmith
04-15-2004, 12:55 PM
Karen,

If you are concerned about the value of that piece, DO NOT CLEAN IT! Take it to or consult a conservator familiar with this kind of work. As to identifying the bead material, a specialist can probably help you there also. I see what might be chips on the ends of some of the beads. Check those with a high power magnifing glass. Glass chips very differently from shell.

-Don-

chuckie
04-15-2004, 10:33 PM
Glass chips very differently from shell.
-Don-

Yes, very differently. Glass will leave smooth, cup-like shapes. Shells will most often have little striations, sort of like tree rings, where the shell slowly built up layer upon layer of shell material. The indent from the chip would not be as smooth. Good call, Don.

Char