Jewelry has always had a place in human society, and the oldest pieces of body decorations ever found such as necklaces predate even the written word. Some of the oldest known jewelry was found in a 10,00-year-old site, where beads made from Nassarius shells were found. Throughout history, jewelry such as earrings, necklaces, bangles, and more were statuses of social standing or even royalty, and they were often used as a badge of status or office or religious authority. Until recently, only the wealthy and nobility could afford jewelry, but today, jewelry has found its way into common life, and many different gems, precious metals, and sea glass have proven popular for consumers, everything from a diamond engagement ring to pendants to brooches passed down mother to daughter. Common gems like diamonds, rubies, and emeralds are well known, as are the metals gold and silver. But what about sea glass? Some may have not heard of sea glass jewelry before, but it has proven itself popular, in everything from sea glass anklets to sea glass earrings. Where does sea glass come from, and how does it compare to other jewelry?
The Nature of Sea Glass
Jewelry such as sea glass anklets and charms are often popular and attractive, but it may be surprising to hear about sea glass’s humble origins. This is not a material found in nature such as gems or metals; rather, sea glass gets its origins from, of all things, trash. Until recently, societies around the world discarded their refuse into the world’s oceans like a giant liquid landfill, and this often involved glass products. Glass has been produced since the days of Mesopotamia, and over the millennia, many glass items ranging from windows to medicine or drinking vessels and beyond have been included in this worldwide trash effort. These pieces of glass did not biodegrade like organic matter; rather, broken glass pieces lingered in the oceans, being churned and eroded by salt water. But this did not destroy the glass; instead, years of churning or being dragged through silt wore the glass trash into rounded and smooth shapes, and often altered the color of the glass. Eventually, these glass remains washed up on the beaches of the world, where people can collect them.
It is remarkable to think that sea glass anklets started off as trash in the ocean. Today, plastic often replaces glass for some products and there are efforts to reduce pollution in the oceans, so sea glass production rates may be declining. All the same, many examples of this man made jewelry exist, and sea glass is often prized for its beauty and the rarity of some colors. The color of a sea glass piece may be determined by the glass that it was made from, with some colors being more rare than others. Blue, green, and aqua shades are fairly common (and are popular for weddings), and they may be found in every 50 to 100 pieces of sea glass. Meanwhile, red and pink are more rare and exotic, and this may drive up their prices. And orange stand as the rarest sea class color of all, being found in one in every 10,000 pieces of sea glass or so. Recently, as of 2007, the North American Sea Glass Association was formed to help enthusiasts of sea glass gather and share their expertise, and this group now boasts about 90 members or so.
Sea Glass Anklets and More
Does sea glass compete with traditional gems like sapphires and amethysts on the jewelry market? It often does, and sea glass can be used in nearly anything from rings to necklaces to sea glass anklets, a fashionable accessory for nearly anyone to try out. Sea glass can also be used for engagement rings. Many men today are looking for alternatives to diamonds for engagement rings so that they can make more unique and personal jewelry for their girlfriends, and this may include sea glass, too. A custom engagement ring may have a sea glass piece worked into it if the jeweler has access to this material. Sea glass can also make for thematic bridal jewelry for an outdoor beach wedding ceremony, another option for customers of sea glass to consider.