Sea Glass FAQ's

Where Does Sea Glass Come From?

Sea glass (also known as beach glass, ocean glass, trash glass, mermaid's tears, lucky tears, and many other names) is glass found on beaches along oceans or large lakes that has been tumbled and smoothed by the water and sand, creating small pieces of smooth, frosted glass.  Basically, it’s the ocean acting like a big huge rock tumbler over a long period of time.

Mother Nature has a unique way of cleansing herself.  By recycling our trash into Sea Glass, Beach glass gems for us to find.  Please be responsible when Beach Combing, pick up any trash you may find along the way.  You never know, you might just find that treasure that could change your life.  By picking up the trash on the beach, I found a treasure that changed my life forever.  Sea Glass.

If we take a look back in time to mid 1950’s or so, prior to the recycling craze and prior to industry of today using plastic for packaging, pretty much everything came in glass containers of one sort or another.  As a result of people needing a way to dispose of their trash, hauling it into the ocean and bays were quite acceptable.    

As a result, it was common place in larger city areas to load our daily trash onto barges and haul it out into the ocean, bay or sea to dump.  With current ecological and environmental issues being on everyone’s mind, we no longer treat the ocean as our disposable dumping ground.   With current mandates and international laws prohibiting the dumping of trash into the Ocean, it has also become illegal to simply toss trash into our waterways and oceans.  It’s simply amazing when you look back into history, how we thought of the Earth and how we acted as a result.  In recent years, as we discovered how treating the Earth as indestructible was incorrect and started taking action to prevent disastrous results from our actions, we all started practicing recycling.

Another way Glass gets into the ocean is either by someone tossing a marble or glass container over board from a ship or boat.  (Both are illegal by the way)   Even though, it’s not easy to find these days, you will no doubt find Sea Glass where people have been. Sea Glass, Beach Glass or what ever you choose to call it can be found pretty much any where there is current, waves and rocks to tumble the glass.  All you have to do is beach comb and watch the ground.  If you are lucky enough to find Lake Glass, it’s just a beautiful as Sea Glass. Sea Glass can and is found pretty much any place there is a beach, shore, ocean front, bays and dock areas such as the Great Lakes area.  I have even found what I call Lake Glass in the shallow areas of a local fresh water lake and by the docks.  The appearance is slightly different but again, time, current, wave action and people all add up to finding glass.

What are the colors of Sea Glass / Beach Glass?


Sea glass is one of the very few cases of a valuable item being created from the actions of the environment on irresponsible man-made litter.  The color of sea glass is determined by its original source. Most sea glass comes from bottles, but it can also come from jars, plates, windows, windshields, glasses, art, flasks, containers, and any other glass source that has found its way into the ocean. Some collectors also collect sea pottery, lake glass, dive glass and bon-fire glass.

Most common colors of sea glass are Kelly Green, Brown, and White. These colors come from bottles used by companies that sell beer, juices, and soft drinks. The clear or white glass comes from clear plates and glasses, windshields, windows, and assorted other sources like vases and slag glass.  Clear glass will turn white.  Sea Glass can be created by just about anything that gets tossed into the ocean either from accident or on purpose.  An old vase, stem ware, glass plates or bowls and nick-knacks or ornaments. this does not mean that ALL glass in this color is common. Certain pieces can be much older, thicker and have characteristics that will make a shard of sea glass more valuable such as a bottle neck or handle and identifying marks.  If you can identify what a piece of sea glass came from, the value goes up tremendously. 

Less abundant colors of Sea Glass are the Deep Aqua's sea glass, Sea-foam Greens sea glass, Lavenders sea Glass & Purple sea glass,  Lime Greens & Rose Sea Glass.  These colors come from things like old vases, stem ware, glass plates or bowls and a variety of other glass ware like nick-knacks and ornaments. 

The old sea glass you find such as the Very Rare Cobalt Blues sea glass were created from Vick's, Noxzema, Milk of Magnesia & Bromo Seltzer bottles and other assorted items. The Reds could be from older car's glass brake lights, very old Anchor Hocking beer bottles or from stained glass windows dumped into the sea ages ago. The rest could be from Mason jars, Telephone insulators, Coca Cola bottles and beer and soda bottles, which are what you mostly find on the beach in present day.  

It’s pretty hard to identify exactly what a piece of Sea Glass was made from but in some instances, if you are lucky, there will an identifying mark on the sea glass such as a trade mark or logo.  Some bottles probably came from boats and even sunken ships.  It is said that it takes a minimum of three years for the waves, sand and tide to wear the broken glass down to the likeness of a raw gem or for a better term, what you now call beach glass, but no one knows for sure. 

Less common sea glass colors include Jade sea glass, Amber sea glass could be from bottles for whiskey, medicine, spirits, and early bleach bottles, Golden Amber sea glass colors is thought to be mostly from spirit bottles, Lime Green  sea glass is thought to come from soda bottles during the 1960s, Forest Green sea glass, and Soft or Light Blue sea glass  is possibly from soda bottles, medicine bottles, ink bottles, and fruit jars from the late 1800s and early 1900s, windows, and windshields.   These colors are found about once for every 25 to 100 pieces of sea glass found.

Uncommon colors of sea glass include Soft Green sea glass, which is thought to come primarily from early to mid-1900s Coca-Cola, Dr Pepper, and RC Cola bottles, as well as beer bottles. Soft green colors could come from bottles that were used for ink, fruit, and baking soda. These colors are found once in every 50 to 100 pieces. 

Purple sea glass is very uncommon, as is Citron sea glass, Opaque White sea glass, Cornflower Blue sea glass(from early Milk of Magnesia bottles, poison bottles, artwork, and Bromo-Seltzer, Noxzema and Vicks Vapo-Rub containers), and Deep Aqua sea glass(from Ball Mason jars and 19th century glass bottles.) These colors are found once for every 200 to 1,000 pieces found.  .  Because Sea Glass in these colors is extremely rare, it is seldom sold in bulk quantities.  I’ve found these colors are only available to purchase by the piece or in small lots by reputable Sea Glass Dealers. 

Rare and extremely rare colors of Sea Glass include

Lime Green sea glass, Gray sea glass,  Pink sea glass (often from Great Depression era plates), Teal  sea glass(often from Mateusz wine bottles), Black sea glass(older, very dark olive green glass), Yellow sea glass(often from 1930s Vaseline containers), Turquoise sea glass(from tableware and art glass), Deep Red  sea glass(often from nautical lights, old car glass brake lights, very old anchor Hocking beer bottles and old stained glass are found once in every 5,000 pieces), and Orange sea glass(the least common type of sea glass, found once in 10,000 pieces.) These colors are found once for every 1,000 to 10,000 pieces collected. Some of the Black sea glass is quite old, originating from thick eighteenth-century gin, beer and wine bottles.  Because Sea Glass in these colors is extremely rare, it is seldom sold in bulk quantities.  I’ve found these colors are only available to purchase by the piece.

Sea Glass Marbles, End of day glass, slag glass or flash glass, bottle necks, handles, bottoms, rounds and other assorted unique shapes are rare as well.  Marbles are usually the result of either a child tossing it into the ocean for assorted reasons or a marble factory disposing of unused glass at the end of the day or disposing of poor quality marbles.  End of day glass, slag glass or flash glass is the result of a glass factory dumping unused glass at the end of the day or dumping poor quality glass.  Bottle necks, handles and bottoms are just that, broken pieces of assorted bottles, cups and mugs and other glass objects that have been dumped into our ocean.  Rounds and other shapes are a result of glass objects being broken up due to the ocean currents or being broken in one fashion or another and dumped as trash. 

Beach Glass is often hydrated and usually has a frosty surface.  It always has an opaque appearance, often showing pits and chips.  The less a piece is chipped and pitted,      the more valuable the piece is.  Hydration is a very slow process in which the lime and soda is slowly leached out by the constant contact with the salt water.  It is possible      to reproduce this process with rock tumblers but the glass does not look the same as Beach Glass.  You will notice the lack of luster in the color.  The natural tumbling of the glass   by the waves on uneven rocky shores and in the sand will cause uneven pieces that end up in triangles or chards.  These pieces almost always end up very uniform on all the edges with well rounded edges.  You will see that most rock tumbled pieces of sea glass are usually square or round bead type pieces.  Mother Nature does not cut or shape a piece of sea glass to uniform size for us to create jewelry or home décor items with.  You may find a piece of square or completely round sea glass but you will not find several pieces that uniformly match that has naturally processed in the ocean.  Even in my pursuits with snorkeling and diving to find sea glass, I have never seen perfectly matched up pieces of sea glass.  

Dive Sea Glass

Dive Glass is Glass that is gathered while it is still under the water, before it rolls up onto the Beach.  This glass often has the same look with the exception of the edges not being quite so rounded and worn down.  The frost on these pieces is not quite the same as in the pieces you find on the beach.  I think this is because it has not processed as long and the natural process of hydration has been allowed for the same length of time.  I am really not sure just why the frosting is not as intense but it’s close.  This is the Glass that T-Glass uses in most of our designs.  We have found that by diving to collect our glass, it not only gives us the chance to enjoy a day of diving but it also lets us collect the larger specimens.  Collection under water is challenging as well as rewarding.  When diving we find the exact same colors, rare or common, that the beach comber finds only larger pieces.  We have also found handles, bottoms and rims of glass ware of assorted varieties.  Occasionally we find entire bottles or cups that are not broken or cracked.   

 Bon-Fire Glass

Bon-Fire Glass is glass that has been tossed into a bon-fire on the beach or burned as trash and then buried or washed into the ocean.  This glass always looks like melted clumps of glass.  This is probably the most unique form of Sea Glass you will ever find on the beach today.

 Sea Pottery

Sea pottery (also known as "sea china" or "sea porcelain") is pottery which is broken into worn pieces and shards found on beaches along oceans or large lakes that has been tumbled and smoothed by the water and sand, creating small pieces of smooth, frosted pottery. It is often collected with more common sea glass by beachcombers.

Sea pottery originates from pottery, including earthenware, stoneware, and porcelain which breaks into smaller pieces and is smoothed by the acidity and motion of an ocean or lake. Much of the sea pottery in the United States originated from discarded 18th and 19th century porcelain china made in Europe and America. Before the seventeenth century all porcelain was created in China. Some sea pottery contains discernible patterns, such as flowers, figures, and historic places and scenes which allow the pottery to be dated using pottery reference guides.

Sea pottery is often used in household decorations and furnishings as well as jewelry. Some enthusiasts fill jars with sea pottery to display. Sea pottery is sold in various stores.

 Sea Glass Colors

The most common colors of Sea Glass you will find are Greens, Browns and White (which used to be clear glass).  There are exceptions to the rule on these sea glass colors though.  There are hues of these colors that are extremely rare finds.  You will also be able to find sea glass in some colors more often in certain areas depending on the area.  For instance, if there is or was a glass factory near by or if there is or was a large population and what kind of glass-ware was popular in that area. 


While there are sea glass colors that are considered common and rare, depending on the markings and exactly what you find, the piece of sea glass could be valued higher. The commonly found sea glass colors of Green, Brown and White are common simply because there are still sources for new sea glass in this range. We will find these colors of Sea Glass for many years to come if not indefinitely due to the fact these colors of glass are still primarily used in beer and wine cooler bottles, glass jars and containers and various other products such as glasses and stem ware.


Keep in mind that the pieces that are older and thicker and have unique markings such as logo or stamps will still rate a higher value.  The rare colors of old sea glass that can be found are more valuable simply because they are expensive to create and most if not all glass factories have ceased manufacturing these colors due to the cost involved.


Sea Glass Marbles and slag glass or flash glass, are uncommon finds on the beach today.  We tend to find these in areas close to an either still producing or old abandoned glass factory or marble factory.  Because the marbles and slag glass tends to have more than one color inside the outer color of glass, these fetch a higher price than regular sea glass.


Sea Glass Colors Listed

A – Kelly Green - Brown - White

B – Deep Auqa, Sea Foam Green, Lavender, Purple, Lime      

       Green and Rose

C – Cobalt Blue, Red

D – Jade, Amber, Golden Amber, Lime Green, Forest Green, Soft Blue

E – Soft Green

F - Dark Purple, Citron, Opaque White, Cornflower Blue, Deep Aqua

G – Lime Green, Gray, Pink, Teal, Yellow, Turquoise, Deep Red,


Next thing to do is rate the frost and individuality of your Sea Glass


Sea Glass Frosting

Depending on the condition of the Sea Glass you find and the amount of frost it has, this will help you determine whether your glass is very old or not.  Old Sea Glass is more valuable than recent Sea Glass but here again, it is impossible to tell exactly how old your glass find is.  Rule of thumb to follow:

The more frost your sea glass has, the older the piece is and more valuable it is.  The more hydration and wave action that a piece of sea glass gets, the more frost it will have.


Sea Glass Shape and Individuality

You will find many shapes and sizes of glass during your beach combing time.  The thinner glass that has common shapes with nothing unique about the glass is most commonly found glass on the beach.

Very thick glass with a single color is the next most commonly found glass on the beach.  This glass can be any color and usually has good frost.

Bon-fire glass, slag glass, end of day glass, glass with logos or indentifying marks, handles, necks, stems and anything totally unique.


Sea Glass Rounds often occur from either marbles or slag glass.  Slag glass or flash glass is commonly found where there either is or has been a glass factory and dumped the unused or trash glass into the ocean.  This was common practice in the late 1800s early 1900s.  Sea Glass marbles are most likely from loose marbles that have found their way into the ocean or dumped from a marble factory discarding poor quality marbles or unused glass from the days production.

While this is just a guideline that I use for myself, depending on the area you collect Sea Glass in and the colors of Sea Glass you may find, you will get a rough idea as to the value and color rating of your Sea Glass finds.





 Note:  All the Sea Glass used in our designs is either purchased from reputable Sea Glass Dealers or collected by us. 


 See How to care for your Sea Glass Jewelry




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