Sea glass is the ultimate junk to treasure story, with a little bit of mythology thrown in. The glowing, translucent pieces that you find on the beach have very humble and prosaic origins. Different types of beach glass originated from the glass bottles of different colors that were just thrown into the sea back when people weren’t too careful about how they disposed of their trash. Over time, the action of waves, water and sand broke the glass down into small pieces, polished it and gave it that fascinating translucent sheen, which makes it a favorite for jewelry and collectibles.
Where does sea glass come from?
The commonest types of beach glass are green and brown, and they were originally wine, beer, and whiskey bottles. Sea glass colors depend on the original colors of the glass objects they were part of: thus sea foam colored sea glass, a popular choice for sea glass jewelry, comes from old Coca Cola bottles and window glass.
Bright cobalt and cornflower blue sea glass comes from bottles that contained milk of magnesia, perfume, poison, Bromo-Seltzer and Vicks VapoRub. Aqua is a rare and stunning color, and so are orange, red and purple.
How is sea glass made?
The story of sea glass is one of those accidents that make you think maybe Nature knows what it’s doing. Glass has been made by humans for thousands of years but during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the production of glass bottles was industrialized. Millions of glass bottles were made to hold milk, medicines, cosmetics, and of course alcoholic drinks.
Until recently, however, people didn’t care how they disposed of their trash and recycling was unheard of. So much of the glass ended up in the oceans, where it was subject to the action of waves, water and sand. The glass was broken up into small pieces, polished and sanded until it acquired that mystical, otherworldly sheen and was finally returned back to us on our beaches.
If that sound too prosaic, you can pick the alternative version, in which sea glass is really the tears of the mermaids who were banished to the ocean deeps by grumpy old Neptune for the crime of falling in love with human sailors.
The popularity of authentic sea glass charms and jewelry
No matter which explanation you choose to believe, there’s something compelling and mysterious about sea glass. It’s been through quite a journey and we would love to hear about it. The next best thing is to wear it, in the form of sea glass rings or sea glass necklaces.
The recent popularity of sea glass charms and jewelry is an indication of our fascination with the oceans and the world of nature. Paradoxically, sea glass is also becoming more rare and more difficult to find, as glass is disposed of more responsibly. However, there are still many types of beach glass to be found on beaches around the world.
You may choose to hunt for your own sea glass, or to buy your sea glass jewelry from gift shops and online stores. Once the fascination of sea glass takes hold, there are new worlds waiting fir you to discover.