Sea Glass: The Ocean Has Polished Our Broken Glass and Turned It Into Treasure

August 31, 2020 at 5:59 pm




After centuries of tumbling in ocean waves, our broken glass has been transformed into entire beaches of colorful little gemstones called “sea glass.”

 




Much of the glass humans have broken and thrown away throughout history has ended up in the ocean.

Luckily, unlike plastic, glass is a natural material made out of sand, that eventually turns back into sand once it has eroded into tiny enough pieces.

Before it breaks all the way back down into sand, it is tumbled by the ocean into these dazzling little stones called “sea glass.”

Today, entire beaches of sea glass can be found in the northeastern United States, Bermuda, Scotland, the Isle of Man, northern England, Mexico, Hawaii, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Nova Scotia, Australia, Italy and southern Spain.

Naturally produced or “genuine sea glass” originates from broken bottles, broken tableware, or even shipwrecks. The glass shards are rolled and tumbled by the ocean’s tides for decades until all the sharp edges are smoothed and rounded.

The glass loses its slick surface and gains a frosted appearance.

The process takes between 30 and 100 years.

Sea glass collectors can often tell where and when the glass originated by its color.

The most common colors of sea glass – kelly green, brown, white, and clear – come from modern beer, juice and soft drink bottles, as well as plates, drinking glasses, windshields and windows.

Less common colors include jade, amber, forest green and ice blue, which came from whiskey bottles, medicine bottles and ink bottles from the late 19th and and early 20th centuries, and lime green, which comes from soda bottles in the 1960s. These colors account for about one in every 25 to 100 pieces of sea glass found.

Even less common colors include purple and cobalt blue (from early Milk of Magnesia bottles, poison bottles and Vicks VapoRub containers) and aqua (from Ball Mason jars). These colors account one in every 200 to 1,000 pieces found.

Extremely rare colors include gray, pink (often from Great Depression-era plates), teal (Mateus wine bottles), yellow (1930s Vaseline containers), turquoise (from tableware and art glass), red (car tail lights and nautical lights) and orange. These colors account for every 1,000 to 10,000 pieces collected.

Even harder to find is antique black glass that dates over 500 years old, thought to originate from pirates liquor bottles in the Caribbean!