Where Does Sea Glass Come From?

If you have ever visited a beach, it's likely that you've encountered some sea glass. Also known as beach glass or mermaid tears, sea glass is fragments of glass that are notable for their frosted appearance and are found on many beaches and shores worldwide. The phenomenon of sea glass is both beautiful and mysterious, and can leave many wondering how exactly sea glass comes to be.

Sea glass is a treasure born from trash; all sea glass begins as discarded glass items, typically old bottles and containers, but sometimes less commonplace items objects such as window panes or old car lights. Some of these items ultimately end up in the ocean, where they eventually become sea glass.

Once in the ocean, the motion of waves as well as rocks or other hard objects or life forms in the ocean tend to cause glass to break into numerous fragments. These fragments continue to be worn down by salt water waves, and tumbling among sand and rocks, which make the edges of the glass softer and wear off its shine, leaving its characteristic soft, frosted appearance.

Not all sea glass is alike. Sea glass can be found in a great variety of colors, not only because glasses of different colors become sea glass, but because of the varying conditions in which glass shards become sea glass, such as the mineral content of the water. The shape of sea glass may also vary depending on where it is formed; sea glass that forms on sandy beaches tends to be more smooth and rounded in shape due to even tumbling by sand, whereas the hard surfaces of rocky beaches tend to tumble glass unevenly, creating more erratic shapes.

Sea glass has a long history, having existed since glass came into use; in much older times, it was standard practice in coastal regions to discard of trash in the ocean instead of landfills, which could be breeding grounds for diseases. This practice still occurs and creates sea glass in less developed countries, though much of the glass that becomes sea glass today is litter or simply other trash that ends up in the ocean.

Though trash presents a growing problem to the world, the phenomenon of sea glass lends some optimism to the situation. A product of nature's upcycling, sea glass is a treasure that many love to see, collect, and even use to make jewelry and crafts.

About Author: DejaVu Designs' collection of sea glass jewelry and accessories feature sea glass collected from Boston's scenic Harbor Islands and the rocky shores of Maine's Casco Bay. The pieces are understated and elegant, yet call to mind the whimsicality of a summer's day on the beach.