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Sea Glass - Rare gems from salty waters

I found the first piece of sea glass a few years ago when I was walking along the coast. I was not sure what it was. Its weight felt like a shard of glass but it did not look like it. The edges were round and smooth, the texture not shiny but matted. Plastic? I remember that the small piece was a stunning turquoise. I held it against the sun and saw that it was translucent. I was hooked. 


“Genuine sea glass” is physically and chemically weathered glass found on beaches along the oceans of the world. It can take dozens and even hundreds of years for the glass to acquire its characteristic texture and shape that makes it so unique. 


Sea glass begins as regular shards of broken glass thrown into the water, from ships, factories or just anyone walking by the water. It stems from bottles, tableware, lamps, windows, and even shipwrecks. The broken pieces are incessantly tumbled by the waves in the salt water until their sharp edges are smoothed and their shiny surface becomes frosted. 


The color is determined by its original source. Most comes from bottles – soft drinks, water, milk, pharmaceuticals but also perfume or poison. Common colors are green, brown, white, and clear. Less common are yellow, cobalt, and cornflower (or electric) blues. Even rarer are citron, jadeamber, lime green, forest green, and light blue. Extremely uncommon colors include pink, gray, teal, turquoise and black. Purple (my favorite), red and orange are considered the rarest. 

Besides pieces of glass, colored pieces of sea pottery can also be washed ashore. Sometimes with wonderful patterns and shades that make the prettiest beads in a bracelet. The best times to look for sea glass are during spring tides and the first low tide after a storm. Genuine sea glass is becoming rarer and harder to find all over the world – that is why it is called the “gem of the ocean”.

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