What is Sea Glass?
Sea glass and beach glass are similar but come from two different types of water. "Sea glass" is physically and chemically weathered glass found on beaches along bodies of salt water. These weathering processes produce natural frosted glass. "Genuine sea glass" can be collected as a hobby and can be used to make jewellery.
"Beach glass" comes from fresh water and in most cases has a different pH balance, and has a less frosted appearance than sea glass.
Sea glass takes 20 to 30 years, and sometimes as much as 50 years, to acquire its characteristic texture and shape. I'm collecting genuine sea glass from my local beaches.
How is Sea Glass made?
Sea glass begins as normal shards of broken glass that are then persistently tumbled and ground until the sharp edges are smoothed and rounded. In this process, the glass loses its slick surface but gains a frosted appearance over many years.
Sea glass can be found all over the world, but the beaches of the northeast United States,
and southern Spain are famous.
The best times to look are during spring tides especially perigean and proxigean tides, and during the first low tide after a storm.
Sea Glass from Greece
Collecting shells, fossils, or stones, and combing shorelines for sea glass is a hobby many beachcombers enjoy. Hobbyists often fill decorative jars with their collections and take great pleasure in tracing a shard's provenance while artisans craft pieces of jewellery, stained glass and other decorative pieces from sea glass. Some collectors use their collections in creating works of art.
I love collecting sea glass locally from the beaches that are lapped by the Saronic Gulf which meets the Aegean Sea. This coastline is the Greek Riviera and leads to the end of the Greek mainland and Cape Sounion. The ruins of the Temple of Poseidon perched proudly upon its brow and in the far distance the Greek Islands unfold.
In August, when Greece is at its hottest and we look out to sea at the horizon, we call this 'Greek island fever' where you feel hypnotised by its beauty.
Sea Glass Colours
The most common colors of sea glass are green, brown, and white (clear). These colors come from bottles, beer, juices, and soft drinks. The clear or white glass comes from plates, glasses, windows, and other sources.
Less common colors include jade, amber (from bottles for whiskey, medicine, spirits, and early bleach bottles), golden amber or amberina (mostly used for spirit bottles), lime green (from soda bottles during the 1960s), forest green, and ice or soft blue (from soda bottles, medicine bottles, ink bottles, and jars from the late 19th and early 20th centuries). These colors are found about once for every 25 to 100 pieces of sea glass found.
Uncommon colors include a type of green, which comes primarily from early to mid-1900s Coca-Cola, Dr Pepper, and RC Cola bottles as well as beer bottles. Soft green colors could come from bottles that were used for ink, fruit, and baking soda. These colors are found once in every 50 to 100 pieces.
Purple sea glass is very uncommon, as is citron, opaque white (from milk glass), cobalt and cornflower blue (from early Milk of Magnesia bottles, poison bottles, artwork, and Vicks VapoRub containers), and aqua (from Ball Mason jars and 19th century glass bottles). These colors are found once for every 200 to 1,000 pieces found.
Extremely rare colors include grey, pink, teal (often from Mateus wine bottles), black (older, very dark olive green glass), yellow (often from 1930s Vaseline containers), turquoise (from tableware and art glass), red (often from old Schlitz bottles, car lights, dinnerware or from nautical lights, it is found once in about every 5,000 pieces), and orange (the least common type of sea glass, found once in about 10,000 pieces). These colors are found once for every 1,000 to 10,000 pieces collected. Some shards of black glass are quite old, originating from thick eighteenth-century gin, beer and wine bottles.