I first learned about sea glass a few years ago, but at the time I was working full-time (60 to 80+ hours per week) and had no time for beach combing.
Fast-forward to 2020, I get laid off (am a senior travel consultant), I have plenty of time, but it’s the COVID-era so money is tight, the world seems to be upside down, and I need a distraction.
We all deal with stress differently.
Some people drink.
Some people turn to pharmaceuticals.
I make stuff.
I handle stress by immersing myself in a creative task.
I can zone out of reality for a time, and just focus on the task at hand.
this piece is not for sale as it’s the first piece I ever made
I love to wire-wrap the rings I make because, I can go into it with an idea, but I have to “listen” to the wire in order to get a beautiful outcome.
I love how the rings feel on my fingers. Because they’re made of wire, they have “give” to them, so they don’t feel at all like a rigid piece on my hand.
Also, the wire allows air to circulate so there’s no build up of soap or lotion or anything else, so I don’t get a rash, like I used to when I wore wider gold and silver bands.
I use a tarnish-resistant wire (copper wire, plated with either gold, rose gold, or silver) and authentic beach glass which I myself have collected along various shorelines in Ontario, Canada.
Of course NO jewelry, even real gold and real silver is indestructible, so you want to be cognizant of what you’re exposing the ring to, but at the same time, they aren’t so precious that you have to take them off your hand to wash dishes or shower or swim, etc.
Now, if you’ve been paying attention, I’ve used the terms “beach glass” and “sea glass”.
Is there a difference? Yes. Does it affect the value or beauty? No.
Let me share with you some things to keep in mind when shopping for jewelry made using beach/sea glass.
At the end of this, you’ll be able to see some of my finds, and creations, which are (as of publication of this post) available for purchase (unless otherwise noted).
Ok, let’s get to it…..
1. Sea glass is formed by salt water (ocean or sea). Beach glass is found on the shores of fresh water lakes, rivers and streams.
In the days before municipal landfills, people simply buried their trash, or if they lived near the water they dumped it into the ocean.
While some of the trash was taken away by the currents, a lot of the glass stayed close to the shore where it traveled with the waves, up onto the beach, and then back into the ocean, over and over again, tumbling incessantly back and forth with the rocks and sand.
When glass is immersed in salt water for a long period, the soda and lime used in the glass making process leaches out and creates the familiar pitted and frosted surface of sea glass.
Generally speaking, sea glass is much more “frosted” and pitted than beach glass.
Beach glass is created in fresh water, and although it’s been smoothed by tumbling in waves, rocks and sand, its surface patina is different–less frosty and pitted than sea glass.
The finish on sea and beach glass depends on the weathering conditions (for example, is the sand fine or coarse?, is the bottom sandy or rocky?, etc.) as well as the Ph balance of the water.
That said, there is no difference in the value or beauty of sea glass vs. beach glass.
What makes sea/beach glass so unique (and valuable) is that it’s a combination of nature and mankind, working separately, but together, to create something unique and special.
2. Part of the reason why sea or beach glass is so captivating is the length of time it takes to create.
It can take decades, even as long as 100+ years, for Mother Nature’s activities and energies to evolve a piece of everyday glassware into something worthy of jewelry-making.
When I find a gorgeous piece of beach glass, I like to think of it as a “reverse gemstone.”
Precious gems such as diamonds, rubies, and sapphires are mined from the Earth and refined by Humans.
Sea and beach glass, on the other hand, is created by Humans and then refined by Nature.
3. For sea glass to be considered authentic, it has to be made by natural forces.
Imagine, a hundred years ago, a fancy perfume bottle was tossed into the sea, and over the course of the following century, the bottle was broken into pieces of glass, which were then pummeled by waves, tossed about my currents, travelling hundreds, possibly thousands of miles, getting tumbled by the oceanic forces, until, you’re walking along the beach one day and spot something glistening in the sand, amongst the stones.
I can tell you from experience, it’s like winning the lottery (not that I’ve ever won the lottery, but I can imagine the euphoria).
Now picture yourself walking into the Dollar Store and buying a bag of imitation sea glass. Not quite as euphoric.
Which explains why beach/sea glass is so special.
It’s like comparing a cubic zirconia with a diamond….both are pretty, but one is man-made, the other is the real deal.
The fun of finding beach glass, for me anyway, as tedious and back-breaking as it can be, is in spotting that gorgeous little treasure amongst all the stones along the edge of a lake, and then imagining its history…..
Maybe it came from an ancient shipwreck during a horrific storm.
Maybe it was a treasured piece of family glassware, accidentally broken and discarded, eventually finding its way to the sea.
Or maybe it was a marble tossed into the ocean during a child’s game, eventually washing up on the beach, timeworn and softened by years of tumbling.
Time and quality go hand in hand, so a piece of sea glass that’s been refined over many, many years, will be far more valuable than the original item was. Like fine wine, it gets better with age.
It’s the same reason that ancient artifacts are so valuable.
4. Authentic sea glass is not always perfectly shaped, unlike man-made or store-bought beach glass.
Although naturally occurring sea/beach glass comes in many shapes and sizes, some of the older, well tumbled pieces can be oval, triangular, teardrop and even heart shaped but generally speaking they have a more organic shape.
Tumbling in oceans or lakes for decades or even centuries to become reshaped, smoothed and changed, today’s sea glass is more rare than many other materials.
When you think about a gemstone, you realize the reason for its popularity is its scarcity, which in turn, determines its value.
Sea glass is rare by definition because the glass is old to begin with.
5. Sea and beach glass is valuable because each piece is unique and cannot be replicated.
Search for sea/beach glass jewelry online and chances are that you’ll find thousands of listings, with a very large difference in price.
Make no mistake, sea glass is a commodity; it has real value, with some individual pieces selling for up to $1,000 and more!
Typically, beauty and value is in the eye of the beholder but one factor which affects pricing is “supply and demand”.
As with any product or commodity, if demand is high and supply is low, the value and price increases.
This is true of sea glass as its supply is declining with each passing day.
Why is it declining? Because “back in the day”, people wouldn’t think twice about dumping their garbage into the ocean, but these days, we recycle.
While this is great for the environment, it means that the amount of sea glass will only continue to decline, because what’s “out there” is a finite quantity.
In a few decades, sea glass may not exist at all!
Another factor which comes into play when it comes to pricing is colour.
The more common colors of white, brown and green were the colors of milk, beer, soda and wine bottles.
More rare are the deep aquas and light blues which were originally glass jars used for ink wells, electrical insulators and elixirs sold by travelling doctors back in the 1890’s.
Even more scarce are cobalt and cornflower blues which come from bottles that were used for storing poison!
One of the most rare and sought after sea glass colors is red! I have yet to find a red, but I doubt it’ll happen while I’m in Ontario. I’m a member of a few Facebook groups for beach glass hunters and MOST of the reds I see being found are not being found on the shores of Ontario lakes.
Red glass was expensive to make because gold chloride, a costly additive, was necessary to make the color. As a result there was very little red glass mass produced, adding to its scarcity.
Likewise, orange and turquoise beach/sea glass is also considered extremely rare because there was very little glass made in these colors.
The rarest colors tend to be gray, pink, black, yellow, turquoise, red, and orange. These colors come from rare items such as old plates, wine bottles, and boat lights.
If we look at sea glass as a metaphor for life, we can see that though it’s been battered, thrown away and broken down, at the end of its journey there has been a transformation… into something special, rare and awesome — from trash to treasure!
A few photos of my beach finds (believe it or not, my favourite time to go beach hunting is in the winter-time!) and some pieces available for purchase:
Starfish Green Glass Earrings
Sterling Silver ear-hooks, silver-plated beads and charms, silver-plated copper wire wrapped green beach glass
Abstract Yin Yang Rose Gold Ring – Size 7
Ultra-light seafoam beach glass, wire-wrapped ring in rose gold-plated copper wire.
not available for purchase
not available for purchase
White Beach Glass Earrings
24k gold-plated hooks and wire, white beach glass. No two pieces of beach glass are alike, therefore these earrings cannot be alike. They are similar but not the same.
Green Beach Glass Earrings
24k gold-plated hooks and wire, green beach glass. No two pieces of beach glass are alike, therefore these earrings cannot be alike. They are similar but not the same.
Young Beach Glass Ring – Rose Gold – Size 7
Lightly frosted clear beach glass, wire-wrapped ring in rose gold-plated copper wire.
Tender Seafoam – Rose Gold – Size 9
Ultra-light seafoam beach glass wire-wrapped ring in rose gold-plated copper wire.
Green Beach Glass Ring – Silver – Size 6
Green beach glass, wire-wrapped ring in silver-plated copper wire.
Dainty Light Seafoam Beach Glass – Rose Gold – Size 6.5
Ultra-light seafoam beach glass wire-wrapped ring in rose gold-plated copper wire.
these are not available for purchase, however, I can certainly make you a pendant/bangle piece by special request
my heart beat extra fast when I spotted this rare cobalt blue piece!
my heart STOPPED when I spotted this ultra-rare perfectly rounded turquoise treasure!!
I guess, like many things, it boils down to taste…..do you want something different or do you want something generic. I personally value uniqueness and when I wear one of my rings it’s always a conversation piece.
Please drop me a note if you’re interested in purchasing something I’ve already made, or, if you’d like to discuss a custom-made piece, I’m always open to working on a made-to-order creation.
Worldwide shipping available (at additional cost). Free Expedited Shipping on purchases over $100CAD.