If you've ever walked along a beach, you've probably knelt down to collect sea glass -- bright shards of glass that have been rounded and shaped by the ocean over time. Those with a more creative flair have turned sea glass into countless beautiful creations, such as sea glass anklet designs, sea glass rings, and other various types of sea glass jewelry. Others use it in mosaics or works of art. There are many different shades of sea glass, though blues, greens, and ambers tend to be more common. So how does sea glass come to be? Where can you find it? Why choose real sea glass over man-made sea glass?
A Brief History of Sea Glass
Sea glass has existed since glass-making was first introduced, before 2000 B.C. in Mesopotamia, and can be found all over the world. In 2007, the North American Sea Glass Association became a formal organization and there are around 90 members today.
Sea glass comes about from their long soak in salt water and being buffeted against the sand by the waves. It can take anywhere from five to 50 years for sea glass to form and for their sharp edges to be worn away. It also depends on the pH level of the water. A higher pH will result in more frosty sea glass -- often found in saltwater bodies, which usually have a pH hovering at around eight. Freshwater like lakes, ponds, or streams usually have a lower pH (ranging from six to eight), and so the sea glass comes out a bit clearer.
Green, white, and amber sea glass is fairly common, as those are the colors that are most often used in the manufacturing of glassware today. Soft green colors may come from bottles that held ink, fruit, or baking soda at one time, and can be found every 50 to 100 pieces. Some colors that are quite rare to find are purple, citron, opaque white (usually previously a milk bottle), cobalt and cornflower blue (once milk of magnesia bottles or poison bottles, art, or Bromo-Seltzer and Vicks VapoRub containers), and aqua (from mason jars or 19th-century glass bottles). You'll find these colors perhaps every 200 to 1,000 pieces. The rarest color of them all is orange sea glass, found only once in every 10,000 pieces, so if you stumble upon a piece of orange sea glass, you'll know you have a rare find!
Where You Can Find Sea Glass
You can find sea glass almost anywhere in the world. Most of it comes from waste tossed in the 19th and 20th centuries. However, with the growing popularity of sea glass collecting, finding sea glass can be more difficult these days. Beaches renowned for sea glass have become picked over and it's more difficult to find sea glass. Your best bet to find sea glass is to visit beaches that are more remote and rockier -- any glass that gets tipped into the ocean will get broken up by the waves smashing it against the rocks on the shoreline, and will eventually make its way to the shore as sea glass.
The Pros of Opting for Real Sea Glass
Real sea glass has been made over the course of many years and has a history. What might it have been in a previous life? Who might have touched or used the glass before it came to you in sea glass anklet designs or as a sea glass pendant? In short, real sea glass has more value attributed to it than man-made sea glass.