...Just where do the colors of beach glass come from? Sea Glass is simply old glass products that were thrown into the sea. If you think
about it, the common colors of sea glass, Green, Brown & White are still in wide
use today......Rarer colors of seaglass are pieces that the color has not been made or used commercially for many years.
While I have broken the colors into rarity categories, it is a general rule and not to be carved in stone (or glass!) as certain colors can be found more readily in some areas. For Example, lavender glass can be a rarity in areas Abundant in Maine & Canada but hardly ever found in the islands. Next time you're in an antique shop or flea market, look at the glass items and see if you haven't found a piece of glass this color!
(Place your mouse over or tap the images to reveal what the sea glass looks like in this bottle color)
Colors of Sea Glass - By Catagory
Common - White, Green, Brown found in most beach combing locations
through out the world. Unique colors are Greens Browns and Whites glass with age, thickness or patterning.
Unique - Olive greens, pale ambers.
Somewhat Rare - Seafoam Green (light greens), Pale Aquas, Amber, Rarer Greens
Rare - Cobalt Blue, Lavender, Aqua, Light Blue, Lime Green,
Extremely Rare - Red, Orange, Yellow, Gray, Teal, Pink, Aqua, Opaque Glass (Milk White, Jadeite)
Treasure Chest Colors - Those pieces of glass that are so unique and usually maintain a pattern or shape of the original source (i.e. bottle stoppers, marbles, embossed glass pieces, pattern glass, old glass tiles, mutli colored glass).
Sea Glass Common Colors to Unique
Green Glass comes in a wide range of shades and hues. Heineken bottles, Rolling Rock, and lots of red wines come in green bottles still today .There is a wide variation of green though and common green generally refers to a kelly green. Older green glass could be considered Unique if bubbled or patterned, embossed or textured.
2 In 10 Pieces Of Sea Glass Found Will Be Common Green
Brown Glass is also an old and new color. Budweiser beer and lots of others come in a brown bottle, but I've also found old clorox and Lysol bottles (yes kids, Clorox did used to come in a glass bottle as did everything else!) with the imprinting still on them.
3-4 in 10 pieces Sea Glass Found Will Be Common Brown
White - well that can come from just about anywhere from a new soda bottle to an old pane of glass. You can usually determine how old your white glass is by the thickness and any markings or bubbles. Many angular shapes of sea glass are white pieces (maybe because it was once window glass from a storm wrecked cottage or auto glass from off shore dumping and reef formation.)
4 In 10 Pieces Of Sea Glass Found Will Be Clear or White
Somewhat Rare To Rare Sea Glass
These colors are not in wide use today so there is no new source for them but they were used widely in the past.
Seafoam Green - While the most common source for this lovely shade of light green glass was most likely an old Coco Cola bottle made in various parts of the world. The shades vary from a light seafoam green to yellow green to light aqua's. Transport was difficult so many of these bottles were manufactured locally, hence the color variations in old coke bottles.
A lot of older white glass however, had a greenish tint and depending on thickness and whether bubbles are present, could be an old piece of rarer glass. New glass of this shade is still used for wine bottles.
50 In a 100 Sea Glass Pieces Found Will be Seafoam Green
Cobalt Blue - there were many items made for this; Phillips Milk of
Magnesia, Noxzema, Bromo Seltzer, even Alka Seltzer used to come in a tall blue
glass tube. Many medicines and even poisons were bottled in cobalt blue glass. The magical like quality of blue glass is why it was used for medicine and why you still get that thrill finding one. Among the most desirable of sea glass colors considered lucky as it is very lucky to find one now.
1 In 200 - 300 Sea Glass Pieces Found Will Be Cobalt Blue (Dark Blue)
Lavender - I find quite a lot of lavender and this glass has a neat history. You see
the chemical used to make glass white (glass in its raw state usually has a greenish
tint to it, like an old coke bottle) well, this chemical came from
When W.W.I broke out the chemical could no longer be used
and the replacement chemical that was used turned glass lavender
over a period of time. IT's kind of neat to think when you find a
piece of this color, you can date it!
Lavender glass is abundant in some areas and non existent in others.
True purple glass is much rarer. In our English Sea Glass collection, it averages one in 5000 pieces as true lavender glass was reserved for the Monarchy (showing Royalty) and for the Bishops in the church.
1 In 300 - 500 Pieces of Sea Glass Found Will Have A Lavender Hue
Rarer Greens - Can range from Deep Aqua Greens to Emerald Greens. I have some pieces of deep aqua green that are so dark, it is hard to tell what color they are. Most of this glass is very thick, so the theory holds it is most likely older glass (as new glass is very thin in most applications)
Light Blue or Cornflower Blue - Light blue was used before printed labels were adhered to bottles. Made with the same cobalt chemical as the darker glass. The product name was embossed on the glass and this was easier to read on a lighter color glass. When printed labels started to appear, the color of the bottle went darker.
1 In 500-700 Sea Glass Pieces Found Will Be Light Blue (Cornflower Blue)
Lime Green - A glass I have yet to find an exact original source (pictured here is a modern Blenko bottle) for but believe to have been used in beverage bottles in the mid1900's) can be found in some areas but non existent in others. This may be because the soda or beverages that used this glass were local and not national companies . Most lime green glass is not thick so it indicates that it is a more relatively modern glass source, yet localized to certain areas.
1 In 500 Sea Glass Pieces Found Will Be Lime Green (Chartreuse)
Extremely Rare Colors
Red & Orange
Red is the hope diamond of sea glass and will make any sea glass lovers week or year.
One of the most common sources for ruby red glass was made by Anchor Hocking Glass Company for both decorative household items (shown below) and in a 1950's Schlitz Beer bottle (bottle bottom pictured left here with sea glass pieces).
Anchor Hocking discovered a way to use copper to turn glass a red hue instead of the traditional gold, making the cost of producing this glass much more commercially feasible.
I've been told there used to be a
brewery on Long Island that made a beer called "Red Bottle Beer" and that you used to be able to find lots of red sea glass, this may have been where this beer was bottled.
True Reds do in fact use gold to turn the molten glass it's vivid red hue. This is why even today, red glass is very expensive.
Other sources of red sea glass could have been running lights
on boats (you know - red right return), taillights on cars that were dumped offshore to make reefs, or decorative household glass.
Orange was also most likely from an old decorative household item. In the tons of sea glass I have personally collected, I have only ever been fortunate to get 5 pieces of orange.
1 In 5,000 Sea Glass Pieces Found Will Be Ruby Red (Anchor Hocking Glass)
1 In 50,000 Sea Glass Pieces Found Will Be Brilliant Red or Orange
Teal & Aqua
Very desirable this shade of glass on one of the rarest. Teal or turquoise is an older source. I have several old seltzer bottles from NYC that are this great shade. Deep aqua glass could have been a Ball canning jar or insulator used on electric poles in the early 1900's. Decorative glass like stained glass and house wares could also be a source.
Milk White, Jadeite, Opaque Blue- A lot of these glasses were made by fireking in the mid 1900's mostly for household items (dishes etc..) but there were some commercial uses of the opaque white glass. I have a half of an old ball jar lid liner that is milk glass.
1 In 1000 Sea Glass Pieces Found Will Be Deep Aqua (Turquoise)
Depression Glass Pink, Green and Yellow - is most likely depression glass. Not to be confused with a light lavender glass, pink sea glass is a soft pastel yellowy pink. Depression glass was widely used in house ware items (pictured to the right). Green depression glass (vaseline glass) and the rarer yellow depression glass are all great sea glass finds.
Ultra Rare - Treasure Chest Sea Glass
This glass is, when you find it, a true treasure. From old marbles used as ballast on sailing ships to frosted glass bottle stoppers this category is limited only to products not made of glass.
There are pattern pieces that are flat and thin from old stained glass. One of my personal favorites is glass with markings. I think the passion of this type of sea glass comes from the root of sea glass mania for most people, that is, patterns or unique shapes in the glass give us an indication of the origin, that is was indeed a manmade item recycled by nature to a lovely frosted artifact. I'd been interested in seeing pictures or hearing about your "RARE" color finds!
Email me with your special sea glass find at firstname.lastname@example.org
I have often been asked what my favorite or most special find is, unable to answer this with over 1000lbs of sea glass in my studio, I must admit that among my favorite pieces are those with markings. I once had a totally round piece that had the impression of a lion (it was clearly the bottom of a bottle) that broke, it indeed is among one of my most precious finds.
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