Why Is Sea Glass Called Mermaid Tears?

Sea glass is a phenomenon that occurs when glass that has been discarded is broken into shards and finds its way to the ocean, where it is tumbled by the combination of waves, sand, and rocks, and worn by the salt of the ocean. The result is a beautiful, frosted, soft-edged glass known to many as mermaid tears. While the exact origin of this nickname is uncertain, multiple stories attempt to explain sea glass's mystical moniker.

One tale reports that mermaids cry whenever a sailor dies at sea, producing mermaid tears, or sea glass. These tears would sink into the ocean and ultimately be swept ashore by the waves, to be found by humans on beaches as sea glass.

Another, more elaborate myth tells of a mermaid who came to love a ship's captain. One day, the mermaid watched the captain and his ship enter a perilous storm, and, using the power mermaids have over nature, calmed the storm to save the captain's life. However, mermaids are forbidden from using this power to interfere in human affairs under decree of Neptune, god of the sea, and as punishment Neptune banished the mermaid to the bottom of the ocean, never to follow ships or see her sailor again. It is said that her tears still wash ashore as sea glass.

It remains uncertain whether the term "mermaid tears" derives from these stories or simply from the mystery and beauty of sea glass; it is possible that the tales were created after the name as a way ti explain it. Regardless, these myths offer a shared explanation, or at least understanding, of this imaginative name.

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.