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Collecting genuine sea glass -- trash to treasures


collecting sea glass
Sea glass (sometimes called beach glass) is glass from broken bottles or jars which is left in large bodies of moving water. The tumbling effect of the water and sand smooths the rough edges of the glass to create pieces of frosted glass. New sea glass has sharp edges with clean breaks. The older pieces are easily identified with their frosted edges.

Many beachcombers collect sea glass as they search their local beaches for treasures. Some colours are harder to spot than others, and accordingly are considered more valuable by collectors.

Sea glass colours

The colour of a piece of sea glass depends on its origin. While quite a bit of sea glass comes from bottles, some comes from broken ceramics, old jars, even tableware.

white sea glass -- or blue, pink, green?
Tip: Not sure what colour it is? Try these two tricks to determine colour.

The most common sea glass colours are kelly green, brown, and clear. Most of these come from old beer bottles.

Uncommon sea glass colours include jade green, lime green, and cornflower blue, mostly from old soda and alcohol bottles.

Rare sea glass colours include red, black, yellow, and orange. Most of these were originally bottles of a type that weren't broken often!

Beware of imitations

Sea glass can also be artificially created in a rock tumbler, but it's not the same. It takes years of wear and tear from the water to create the distinctive wear patterns on authentic sea glass. Such glass is usually called "craft glass" by collectors. If you see rare colours priced the same as common ones, the seller has craft glass.

Where to find sea glass

Start at your favourite local beach. The best time to search is at low tide if you want to largest area of beach available. Determine where the high tide line is to set that as the outermost point of your search.

Sea glass collecting gear

Before setting forth on your first collecting expedition, I would recommend acquiring the following gear:

Displaying your collection

Glass is best to be displayed where the light can shine through it to show the colours. Keep a stash of small jars to hold your treasures, then display the filled jars on a bright windowsill.

Further reading

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