From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sea glass in several colors and shapes.
Sea glass (also known as beach glass, mermaid's tears, lucky tears, and many other names) is glass found on beaches along oceans or large lakes that has been tumbled and smoothed by the water and sand, creating small pieces of smooth, frosted glass.
Sea glass is one of the very few cases of a valuable item being created from the actions of the environment on man-made litter.
a piece of red sea glass, one of the rarest colors
an old bottle top made of cobalt blue glass, one of the rarer colors
The color of sea glass is determined by its original source. Most sea glass comes from bottles, but it can also come from jars, plates, windows, windshields, glasses, art, flasks, containers, and any other glass source that has found its way into the ocean. Some collectors also collect sea pottery.
The most common colors of sea glass are kelly green, brown, and clear. These colors come from bottles used by companies that sell beer, juices, and soft drinks. The clear or white glass comes from clear plates and glasses, windshields, windows, and assorted other sources.
Less common colors include jade, amber (from bottles for whiskey, medicine, spirits, and early bleach bottles), golden amber (mostly used for spirit bottles), lime green (from soda bottles during the 1960s), forest green, and soft blue (from soda bottles, medicine bottles, ink bottles, and fruit jars from the late 1800s and early 1900s, windows, and windshields.) These colors are found about once for every 25 to 100 pieces of sea glass found.
Uncommon colors of sea glass include 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 Bromo-Seltzer 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.
Rare and extremely rare colors include gray, pink (often from Great Depression era plates), 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 nautical lights, found once in every 5,000 pieces), and orange (the least common type of sea glass, found once in 10,000 pieces.) These colors are found once for every 1,000 to 10,000 pieces collected. Some of the black glass is quite old, originating from thick eighteenth-century gin, beer and wine bottles.
Like gathering shells or stones, collecting sea glass is a hobby among beach-goers and beachcombers, and many enjoy filling decorative jars or making jewelry from their finds. Hobbyists both enjoy searching for and collecting sea glass, as well as identifying its original origins.
Sea glass can be found all over the world, but the beaches of the Northeast United States, Mexico,Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Maine, Nova Scotia, The Chesapeake Bay, California, and Southern Spain are famous for sea glass. The best times to look are during spring tides and perigean and proxigean tides, and during the first low tide after a storm.
Beach glass, as it is called on inland lakes, such as the Great Lakes, is similar to sea glass. However, this glass is weathered by sand and tidal action and not by the saline waters where sea glass is found.
Authentic sea glass has become much less common in many areas due to littering being increasingly discouraged - and so has become increasingly expensive.
Artificial sea glass produced to meet craft demand at a cheaper price, and a wider range of colors, is often produced using a rock tumbler. Such glass lacks the romantic provenance of true sea glass, and differs in many technical ways, (e.g. long-term exposure to water conditions creates an etched surface on the glass that cannot be duplicated artificially), but for professional sea glass collectors, authors, artisans, and retailers the main issue is honesty regarding the source of glass.
While some prefer the term termed "craft glass" for the artificial product, this usage is by no means universal