“There is great healing power found where water meets the shore. The rhythmic surf can soften our rough edges as well.” – Richard LaMotte
A customer and friend said she was trying to explain what beach glass was to someone and had some trouble. She asked me to write about it and I am happy to do so!
The wonderful irony of beach/sea glass is that it was once merely sand itself. For several thousand years, cultures have used the same natural ingredients – sand, soda and lime, to create glass.
Sea Glass and Beach Glass are the oceans, lakes and rivers way of recycling and keeping history alive. Historically, glass containers were used to carry and transport our perishable items. A large part of our trash was glass and ended up in the oceans, lakes and rivers. Naturally produced sea and beach glass, usually known as “genuine sea/beach glass” originates as pieces of glass from broken bottles, broken tableware, or even shipwrecks, which are rolled and tumbled in the ocean or lakes for years until all of their edges are rounded off, and the smooth surface of the glass becomes a smooth frosted look.
Glass is a substance that is never harmful to our water environments. Glass does not grow bacteria, or leach chemicals when it breaks down. The water simply breaks it into smaller and smaller pieces as it is tossed around by variable currents and contact with rocks. After many years the glass begins to transform into sea/beach glass. The smooth frosted sea/beach glass starts to emerge as the glass slowly oxidizes along the way back to its original form, sand.
Every piece of sea/beach glass tells a story depending on where it tumbled, how many rocks it hit, and how many smooth or rocky beaches it has passed in its long lifetime. Some pieces will be heavily frosted, others will seem to be less frosted but just as smooth.
High quality, “jewelry grade” sea glass takes a minimum of twenty years to oxidize, frost and break down leaving no harsh edges. The most beautiful and sought after pieces of sea glass are a hundred years old or even older. It is hard to place the age of a piece of sea glass once found, but typically the thicker the sea glass the older it is.
The value of beach glass is partially determined by its color. Colors range from common, uncommon, rare and extremely rare. Examples of common colors are white (clear), brown and kelly green. Some uncommon colors include amber, soft blue, soft green, sea foam, lime green. Examples of rare colors include pink, cornflower blue, aqua, citron, lavender and cobalt blue. The extremely rare colors are orange, red and yellow.
Richard LaMotte says it best: “Leave it to Mother Nature to improve upon something manipulated by man and returned to her care after it has served our temporary needs. The forces of nature not only shape sea glass by abrasive physical conditioning, but contact with aquatic environments creates unique textures that are only poorly imitated by man.”