A trip to the seashore is sure to surprise you with new found treasures. It also often provides me with inspiration for another new jewelry design. While having my toes in the sand is the best medicine for a happy soul, one of my favorite gifts from the ocean is tumbled natural sea glass.
It’s no exaggeration to say I love the hunt! Whenever I go to a beach, I scour the shorelines looking for sea glass. I have some from Ireland, Bermuda, Florida and the Chesapeake Bay. I keep my treasures in separate jars so I can always remember the magic of finding each piece and the special joy of the place where I discovered them.
My glass stash is also full of gems from friends who have travelled to places that I want to visit. Some of my favorite is glass from Sanibel Island, Florida. I also have a jar from the shores of Scotland- a definite place on my bucket list!
While I collect the glass for my own joy, I also use some of my favorite pieces in custom designs like the one pictured below. Creating a custom piece is something I really enjoy doing. The stories people share with me are priceless and my goal is to create something for them that will be a constant reminder of their special memory. This necklace was hand woven from pure silver and designed around a piece of Sanibel Island glass- a special place that my client loves to visit every summer. The pearls in the piece represent her three daughters who also love the beach!
While all sea glass is beautiful, not all glass is the same. For example, did you know there is a distinction between ‘beach’ glass and ‘sea’ glass? Sea glass is glass that comes straight from the sea, while beach glass is found on the shores of lakes rather than oceans.
Sea glass comes in a variety of colors and is usually the result of old bottles or jars being dumped into the ocean.
White (originally clear glass), green and brown shades are the most common. Red and orange glass however is the rarest. Why? For many years, this glass couldn’t be made without a colorant that required real gold. So this fiery glass was only for the very wealthy.
Blue is one of my favorite shades of sea glass. You can find shades of soft blue, cornflower and aqua which were originally used in medicine bottles or mason jars. Turquoise glass is one of the more rare shades of blue and is hard to come by. Much of the glass I have from Ireland is turquoise. 🙂
On some shores, glass marbles are also a common find. Marbles were used in the past as ballast in ships and were dumped overboard once the cargo was delivered!
The popularity of sea glass jewelry and the growing scarcity of the real deal (thanks to modern day recycling efforts) have led some designers to use man-made sea glass. While pretty (and easier to use due to the more consistent size), I only use real sea glass in my woven designs.
If you’re wondering whether a piece is real or not, here’s a few tips to follow:
- Avoid pieces that look too perfect. Natural sea glass will always have an irregular shape, and often, a varying depth.
- The price seems too good to be true. Real sea glass is more challenging to design with (and find) so the price will depend on the size of the glass, and the color.
- A matched set. If you see multiple pieces in the same matching shape and shade of blue, for example, they are probably made from manufactured glass
So the next time you visit your favorite ocean or lakeside beach take a stroll for some sea (or beach) glass. If you want to remember that special moment lets create a one of a kind custom piece. We’ll make a beautiful memory for you to cherish with your newfound treasure!