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What is sea glass and where can I find it

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What is sea glass and where can I find it

What is Sea Glass and Where Can I Find It?

Fashion inspired by nature is having a moment. If you want to incorporate nature-inspired beauty into your style, you need to look no further than the ocean. The ocean provides no end of bounties for jewelers and fashionistas alike. Pearls, shells, coral fragments, and sea glass all offer gorgeous accents and focal points for jewelry. What is sea glass? Where and how can you find it? Why would you want to see sea glass in jewelry or decor?

Here's what you need to know about this precious, glamorous beach resource!

What Is Sea Glass?

Among oceanic gifts, sea glass is something of an anomaly. What is sea glass? Despite the name, this substance does not arise naturally from the sea. Rather, it serves as a perfect symbolic marriage of man and nature.

Sea glass, sometimes known as beach glass when found in freshwater, arises when glass waste tossed aside by humans gets frosted and worn down by decades of erosion and tumbling in tumultuous waves.

Since green, brown, and clear glass bottles were the most common colors in the past, most pieces of sea glass come in frosted versions of these colors. Purple, blue, and pink sea glass is harder to find. Yellow, black, red, and grey, harder still. However, the rarest shade of sea glass is orange. Collectors consider this tone to be the holy grail of sea glass.

Where Can You Find Sea Glass?

Fun fact: Despite its name, sea glass is not exclusive to the ocean. You can find sea glass near any large body of water, though beaches are by far the most common. You'll also find sea glass by rivers and lakes, though there are some differences between the specimens you find in these locations.

Ocean Sea Glass vs River Sea Glass

Ocean sea glass, as alluded to above, often has a frosted, translucent appearance. Oceanic sea glass faces greater corrosion, and the salt content of ocean water likely also contributes to its frosted tones. Beach glass found by rivers and lakes tends to be more transparent, as it faces less harsh and abrasive conditions.

Manufactured Sea Glass

Sea glass is easy to find in stores but can be tricky to find in its natural environs. The reasoning behind this incongruence? Sea glass can be artificially manufactured. Artificial sea glass can be created in factories, workshops, or even rock tumblers. If you're interested in finding ways to use your old glass bottles, you can recycle one of them into pieces of artificial sea glass.

While natural sea glass tends to be limited in its color palette, manufactured sea glass can be made in any color. If you're getting your sea glass from a big box store or craft conglomerate and can get it in almost any color, chances are, it's not genuine.

Tips for Finding Sea Glass On the Beach

If you want to find sea glass, you'll need to be willing to dedicate some time to comb the beach. Sea glass is not as easy to find as it once was for one reason, and one reason alone. Glass is not used as often these days. Plastic, and all its horrific environmental consequences, has taken the place of glass.

So, how can you go about finding sea glass? Here are some key tips to find it on the beach:

Keep An Eye On the Tides

If you want to find this oceanic treasure on the sea strand, you'll want to keep an eye on the tides. Many feet of the beach that would otherwise be inaccessible get exposed when low tide occurs.

You'll have even better luck finding sea glass if you time your search at either the new or full moon. During those times, the moon's gravitational influence on the ocean is greater than usual. Thanks to that, you'll get even greater expanses of sand to comb for pieces of sea glass.

Keep a Weather Eye On the Horizon

Another tip to help you find sea glass along the shore: Watch the skies. In the aftermath of a massive storm, when the ocean churns and roils, you'll find new pieces of sea glass pulled from the depths.

Tips for Finding Beach Glass By Rivers and Lakes

Finding beach glass, sea glass's more transparent twin, requires slightly different methods. Just like freshwater and saltwater pearls, you can't find these disparate items the same way. Here are some pro tips for finding exceptional pieces of beach glass:

Rocky Shores Are Best

Whether you're hunting beach glass or sea glass, one truth remains the same. Rocky shores are your best hunting ground for these nature-refined treasures. These weathered pieces of glass are more likely to show up in areas with plentiful rocks. 

Look Away from the Sun

While this might seem obvious, you shouldn't look towards the sun when you're searching for beach glass. Rather, you should turn your gaze from the sun and look towards any sparkles you find. In addition, you need to keep a keen eye for darker pieces of beach glass, as they may blend in with the rocks!

Don't Be Afraid to Wade

Sometimes, the perfect piece of beach glass isn't right on the shore or riverbank. You may need to get wet and messy to find the right specimen. Be willing to wade out into the water and dig in the shallows for the right piece.

Why Is Sea Glass Great for Jewelry and Decor?

Now that you understand what sea glass is and where you can find it, you may wonder why people adore this "reverse gem" as a decor element so much. Here are some common reasons people give for using sea glass in their jewelry and decor:

Nature Reclaiming Refuse

As evidenced by the popularity of images showing nature reclaiming abandoned buildings, we love seeing nature take itself back from mankind's impact. Sea glass, by its nature, comes from our old, glass garbage that we once threw on the beach or seafloor. That something so beautiful could come from our literal trash astounds and entrances us.

Each Piece Is Unique in Shape and Color

Unlike most gemstones, which are carved into deliberate shapes, each piece of sea glass is a unique shape and size. No matter how many pieces of sea glass you may find in a hunting session, you'll never get two that are exactly the same. Even if two pieces came from the same original glass source, they will differ in their smoothness and level of frosting.

Value In Scarcity

As mentioned above, genuine sea glass is less common now than it was years ago. This scarcity, especially in rarer colors like orange, red, or cobalt, creates a sense of value. While most forms of sea glass won't net more than ten dollars, a large, orange piece of sea glass might sell for a hundred or even a thousand dollars to an artisan or collector.

A "Gem" With History and Spirit

More than representing the unity of man and sea, these "gems" hold history. Since they came from our old glass trash, every single piece of sea glass has a history. A "spirit", if you're so inclined. Some pieces of sea glass formed from old dishes may have faint impressions of the old patterns still imprinted in them.

How did this patterned sea glass get there? Was it cast out of a land-bound home and made its way through rain and rivers into the ocean? Was it a casualty of a violent shipwreck, or something tossed to the side after a party or cruise? How many years under the sea or beneath the river's surface did this piece see?

The mystery adds an air of romance to these natural beauties, giving them a greater value to collectors and enthusiasts.

A Vanishing Resource

We're more careful about how we handle our trash these days. Even our glass garbage no longer makes its way into the ocean as it once did. Ocean dumping is illegal in many places, and there are countless recycling plants offering alternative places to reuse our glass. Indeed, in a few decades, sea glass may vanish altogether, increasing its value both as raw material and in jewelry drastically.

Worse, some places that replenish their beaches after a major storm bury countless pieces of sea glass, shells, and dried coral that may never reach our hands before they return to sand.

Let's Return to Basics

So, what is sea glass? Sea glass represents the perfect unity of man and sea, the beauty of nature reclaiming itself from our trash. It's a rare resource for jewelry that's growing rarer if you buy genuine pieces. Sea glass, or mermaid's tears, may one day become impossible to find in the wild, forcing us to rely on the artificial variant for fashion and decor.

However, until that happens, we at Onobird are happy to offer artisan-crafted necklaces, bracelets, rings, earrings and pendants made with genuine sea glass. Browse our selection of products today to find the perfect reverse gem piece for you or someone you love!

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