Sea glass, also known as beach glass or mermaid’s tears, is nature’s answer to bottles, china and pottery carelessly thrown into the sea many years ago. The glass is tumbled on the ocean floor, smoothed by the waves and sand until it washes up on shore a jewel, waiting to be found by a lucky passerby.
It can take anywhere from 10 to 40 years for a glass shard to go from being sharp and shiny to frosty and smooth, depending on the beach conditions and wave action. Your piece of glass has already lived a lifetime by the time you have found it, serving its original purpose as perhaps a bottle or vase, before being broken and discarded, and then putting in the hard work of reinventing itself into something beautiful.
Most sea glass we find in Nova Scotia is white (what was once clear glass), green (from wine bottles and 7-Up bottles), and brown (thanks beer drinkers).
Less commonly, we find seafoam and olive greens, amber, and soft aqua. And even more rare are pink, yellow, teal, turquoise, milk glass, blues and sea pottery pieces with the pattern still visible. In Nova Scotia, we do quite well for cobalt blue, which can be very difficult to find on many beaches. I think that's due to the popularity of Noxema over the years, and all the good fisherman with their Milk of Magnesia jars.
The truly rare pieces we find are reds, oranges, and purples. Find one of those and you have bragging rights that whole beach day. And probably the next day too.
The best places to find sea glass are beaches with pebbles or small stones, where there is lots of wave action. And of course a source of glass, which was often a dumping ground where trash was burned and then thrown into the sea (scandalous by today's' standards but common practice just a couple of generations ago). Other sources of glass were old factories, fishing communities, and shipwrecks.
My favourite days are beach days, there's nothing more relaxing than strolling along the tideline, looking for that little splash of colour among the rocks and sand. I can happily lose hours this way.
If you'd like to see some of the jewelry pieces I create with my beach finds, you can pop over to my shop here.
Happy sea glass collecting!