What is Sea Glass?

When I'm beavering away on the beach, head down, getting back ache I wonder how many people wonder what it is I'm looking for and why would I be out in the blustering wind doing so?

Pieces of glass that have been tumbled around in the sea, in amongst the sand and stones over many, many years which can then be found on our beaches, smoothed and frosty looking are what we refer to as Sea Glass or Beach Glass. Add to this the natural reaction between glass and salt and you end up with the etched, frosted look you find on your sea glass.

Beach Glass tends to be the name referred to the pieces of glass you can find in lakes and rivers and will differ in shape and texture due to not having the waves tumble it around as seaglass does.

Discarded bottles and glassware thrown away years ago, end up today being regarded as beautiful recycled gems and pieces of treasure to the sea glass enthusiast. The journey the piece of glass may have taken makes it all the more exciting.

Sea glass can be found in many different colours. Green, brown and white/clear are the most common and would have originated from drink bottles, windows and glasses. Other colours that can be found are varying shades of green, amber, blues, yellow, grey, orange, red and black (which is actually very dark brown) or a mixture of colours from glass fused together. The rarest to be found are orange, yellow and red so if you're lucky enough to find a piece, keep hold of it!

Where to Find Sea Glass?

Sea Glass can be found all over the world on beaches, rivers and lakes. Head out at low tide and after storms when you are sure to find more, and go for the busy areas, popular beaches and harbours.

The history of a place will help to determine if you can expect to find sea glass there or not. For instance, was there a glass factory nearby once upon a time? 

Much of the sea glass we find today was once rubbish dumped into the sea from years ago.

Before going on holiday, do some research on what beaches in the area have the best sea glass, no matter what country you are in there will be somewhere to go hunting.

If you're a fan of Countryfile on BBC One then you may have seen the programme back in February where presenter Ellie Harrison takes a trip to the famous Seaham in Tyne & Wear, County Durham.

Many years ago, there used to be a glass factory at Seaham and the beach itself is still full of sea glass. Ellie spoke with Gavin Hardy from Seaham Waves about combing for sea glass and the jewellery he makes with these fascinating bits of glass.

How to Drill, Carve & Shape Sea Glass?

Whether you are creating a piece of jewellery, a sculpture or wind chimes, you might find it helpful to take a look at our tutorial on How to Drill Sea Glass. We guide you through the basics of using our small diamond drill bits or diamond core drills to drill through your sea glass in 4 easy steps.

See Our Diamond Drill Bits For Sea Glass

How to Drill, carve and shape Sea glass

- Sea glass image above courtesy of Jane Brannan

To find out more about the tools used to drill through glass have a read of our article 12 Things You Should Know About Diamond Drill Bits. This handy guide will problem solve and shine some light on how to use your tools correctly and what they should be used on.

If you are wire wrapping your sea glass then you may wish to carve a groove or channel into the glass to allow for a better hold of the wire. Diamond disc burrs or diamond point burrs are both great for this.

If you don't mind altering the natural state of your sea glass then an added touch is to carve a shape into the glass. Follow this tutorial for carving hearts into your sea glass: How to Carve Hearts Into Your Pebbles Or Sea Glass.

If you need to cut the sea glass into half or shape it in some way you can use a diamond wire hand saw blade in a saw frame. Follow this tutorial for cutting sea glass: How To Easily Cut & Shape Sea Glass and Stones Using Diamond Wire Hand Saw Blades

If you are bezel-setting your sea glass then you may need to file off one side to help it sit nicely, a diamond file works a treat for delicately removing material and shaping your glass. Try a fine 600 grit, half round diamond file. These are really popular with jewellers and can be used on many applications once you've finished your particular sea glass project.

If you have further grinding away to do at the sides in order for the sea glass to sit in your bezel,  try using a small green silicone carbide stone burr. This is a gentle abrasive stone that will grind away finely and smoothly. 

Customers sea glass jewellery made using tools by Eternal Tools

The above sea glass jewellery has all been made using tools from Eternal Tools. From left to right is a a green sea glass bangle by Kriket Broadhurst, and green sea glass and beach pebble pendant by jillyflower jewellery.

Bottom left is a stack of contemporary silver and sea glass necklaces by Kate Chell, and bottom right is a leather cord bracelet with drilled blue and white sea glass by Jane Brannan of ScottishShores.

If you're a sea glass artist or jeweller and would like to be featured in one of our articles please contact us and tell us more about yourself.