If you've ever been to the beach, you've probably spotted glints of sunlight picking out green or blue buried in the sand, or heard a mother warning her children not to pick up broken shards of glass.
You might also see some people actively scouring the beach for pieces of attractive sea glass, and they may possibly be doing so for the purpose of jewellery making.
Nowadays most of our beaches are sadly polluted with litter, including broken glass. However, what is carelessly tossed aside by sea front drinkers and off boats by seamen, has become somewhat priceless to many.
This beach treasure commonly known as "sea glass' is different to other water frosted glass and is different to “true sea glass” - the pH of freshwater or 'beach' glass is different to real sea glass as true sea glass takes 30 to 40 years to mature as it were, and occasionally as much as 100 years to become smooth and frosted.
Of course it's possible that fully aged sea glass is also mixed in with the more common beach glass that we all call sea glass. Once seen as junk, sea glass found on the beach is now used in crafts and jewellery making and therefore the ocean's natural supply is being depleted.
One of our sea glass jewellery pieces below, combined with a 925 sterling silver anchor charm.
As sea glass becomes increasingly rare, some have begun to speculate that is a semi-precious stone in its own right. Although types of sea glass such as green, blue, or clear are easily found, colours such as cerulean or purple are extremely rare.
I myself have only come across one small piece of purple glass in 4 years of searching and never have seen the rarest types such as orange and red. Orange pieces are found once in about 10,000 pieces, which is much less than many semi-precious gemstones.
You could argue that amethyst, a semi-precious stone is much more widely used and found than the more rare forms of sea glass. So, should sea glass be classed as a semi-precious stone? It is rare, and certainly prettier than some semi-precious stones such as Snow Flake.
Below a piece of emerald sea glass jewellery, wire wrapped with eco friendly copper for sailor vibe jewellery.
What is a semi precious stone?
To clarify semi precious gemstones include your basic seafront "healing stones" such as rose quartz and bloodstone, and other stones such as jade.
Basically, semi-precious is any pretty stone that won't cost you an extortionate amount of money. That criterion seems to apply to sea glass... so much so that people are attempting to manufacture sea glass- artificially.
Companies are now taking modern day glass and putting them into a rock tumbler or dipping them in acid to produce the desired finish of smoothed sea glass. Typically this is so that the sea glass can be used to create jewellery, as sea glass jewellery is highly popular.
However, is this really sea glass? the whole purpose is the erosion of the glass that has so much history- coming from beer and soda bottles, the original Milk of Magnesia bottles, poison bottles, artwork, Great Depression-era plates), and 19th century medicine bottles, ink bottles, and fruit jars.
Sea glass is so much more than simply smooth glass, and you cannot achieve that history and that beauty of nature from man-made creations. So although machine glass is a product in its own right, it is not true sea glass or even beach glass.
Using sea glass within jewellery is extremely beneficial to the environment because it uses all the litter that spreads disease, and kills animals.
A 1991 survey of 26 remote Great Barrier Reef islands found 5656 items of rubbish. Among the plastic, glass and metal debris were 725 glass bottles. These bottles cut up the animals from the inside and can plug up the intestines of animals, leading to slow, painful deaths.
Sea glass collecting for any purpose clears the way for baby turtles, birds, and other animals who have the beach as their home. It also helps prevent the spread of disease as glass bottles can harbour diseases such as HIV/AIDS and other BBD (blood-borne diseases). Using sea glass in jewellery creation (once it has been cleaned, of course), sharp or smooth, reduces the risk of disease for the general population and helps to protect wild life.
Sea glass is used in jewellery creation to form necklaces, bracelets, or earrings, often these items are handmade by small designer-makers within the jewellery industry. Sea glass can also be used in mosaics and tiling but is mainly used in jewellery because of its glowing appearance and ethical usefulness.
Sea glass is easy to work with yet creates complex jewellery that is thought to have healing properties.
As a Healing Gemstone
Glass is minerals melted together into a liquid, then shaped and cooled back into a solid. This in itself can be a symbol of your background can be transformed through the hardships and trials of life into something beautiful and precious.
Sea glass has also been discarded and thought worthless. Broken down by the elements, it loses its sharp edges. It smooths down and washes up. It has become a gemstone, ultimately affected most by the acts of nature that surround it.
Sea glass has lost some of its minerals during this process like we lose some parts of ourselves when we work through these hardships. We lose our sharp edges. As minerals return to the sea and earth, so too should we offer our losses of selfish behaviour, and prejudices. The sea glass is believed to help draw the impurities of selfishness and hatefulness from your body, and so in jewellery, so close to your heart or your bloodstream, it can help to withdraw these impurities from your life.
Where to find sea glass
Some of the best places to find sea glass for your own jewellery project are on beaches on the north east coasts of the United States, some beaches in northern California, Oregon, and Washington, (on the surface this seems to indicate that America is full of litterers, but perhaps it's due to the size of their land mass and it's large scale inhabitance).
Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Nova Scotia, Australia, Italy, north west England and southern Spain. Fort Bragg and Benicia California are one of the best in my opinion: the beaches are almost entirely made of sea glass and so a perfect for all your jewellery making needs.
The abundance of glass in this regions will also increase the likelihood of snapping up some of the more rare glass types, like purple, red, or orange - leading to the creation of more sought after jewellery pieces that can be sold at a higher profit, while at the same time benefiting the environment.