Home News Glowing Green: The Halloween Allure of Uranium Glass Jewelry

Glowing Green: The Halloween Allure of Uranium Glass Jewelry

by Madonna

As Halloween approaches, enthusiasts of all things eerie and mysterious are in for a treat with the otherworldly charm of uranium glass jewelry. Unlike typical glow-in-the-dark items that lose their luminance after a few hours, vintage uranium glass jewelry possesses an enchanting, subtle glow, even in daylight. However, the true magic unfolds under a black light, when these rings, necklaces, and brooches cast a neon green glow that borders on the supernatural.

Whitney Granger, a jewelry artist and collector of rare vintage uranium glass jewelry, embraces this unique fascination. Granger, who operates an Etsy shop called StoryShapedStudios, often adorns herself with pieces from her extensive 150-item personal collection. She explains that the jewelry not only garners compliments but also captivates onlookers when she reveals its neon glow under a black light, making it an ideal accessory for Halloween festivities.


However, the safety of uranium glass jewelry is a common concern. Paul Frame, a senior health physicist specializing in radiation protection, reassures that these collectibles are entirely safe. The levels of uranium in such glass are negligible, and there are no associated health risks. Nevertheless, misconceptions about radiation exposure, often fueled by sci-fi movies, persist. Frame emphasizes that everyday life exposes individuals to low levels of radiation, including the minute traces found in bananas. For context, one would need to consume around 100 bananas to match the daily radiation exposure from natural environmental sources in the United States, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.


Antiques containing radioactive materials may emit very low levels of radiation over thousands of years, but the risk remains minuscule. However, the EPA does caution against using vintage uranium Fiestaware for eating to avoid ingesting any chipped pieces.


So how did uranium become part of collectibles? Uranium was a popular colorant used globally, with its heyday in the United States between 1958 and 1978 when over 4 million pieces of decorative uranium glass were manufactured. This led contemporary collectors on treasure hunts to thrift stores, antique shops, and estate sales, armed with black lights, in search of dinnerware, glassware, and other items, including marbles, crafted with this chemical element.

Even more niche is the collection of uranium glass jewelry. Whitney Granger’s journey into this unique realm began when she chanced upon her first piece on eBay a few years ago—a pre-World War II Czech beaded necklace from Neiger Brothers. The allure was instant, but she found scant information on uranium glass jewelry. This led her to start a Facebook group, “Uranium Glass Jewelry,” which has grown to over 5,600 members. Collectors share their discoveries, showcasing brooches, beads, rings, and necklaces in natural light and under black light.

Granger played a significant role in popularizing the interest in uranium glass jewelry. The demand has grown to such an extent that it became her full-time occupation during the pandemic. In addition to collecting pieces for sale, she sources vintage uranium glass to craft jewelry for her Etsy shop.

The prices of these items vary, with collections of five brooches selling for around $45. Earrings are available from approximately $25, while rings can fetch $200 to $300 or more.

The allure of uranium glass jewelry lies in the thrill of the hunt, where collectors embark on a quest with a black light, never knowing what they’ll discover. The captivating green glow leaves them spellbound.

One of Granger’s most intriguing finds, fitting for Halloween, is an 1830s Georgian pinchbeck choker. Originally a woven human hair bracelet, it offers a touch of the macabre, making it a perfect addition to the season’s festivities.


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