Jewellery often holds a special place in our heart, taking us back to a point in our lives or a gift from a loved one. But what if a piece of your jewellery could hold a piece of history from hundreds of years ago, without you even knowing?
Sea glass starts as a piece of glass, from broken beer bottles, medicine bottles and sometimes even items from a shipwreck. When environmentalism wasn’t a priority, waste would often go into the ocean, creating a surge of glass in the seas. As the years have passed, the glass has rolled and tumbled in the ocean, until all the edges start to round off and the slickness of the glass has given way to a new frosted appearance. It can take anywhere from 5 to over 100 years to form, and then washes up on beaches, for people to find. Turquoise, red, white and pink coloured sea glass is thought to be more rare, so keep your eyes peeled next time you go to the beach.
Sea glass can be used in a wide range of items from art to home décor, but the most popular way sea glass is used is in jewellery. Specialist online stores are opening globally, dedicated to sourcing precious sea glass and turning them into a magnificent piece of jewellery. Jewellery makers have many techniques to make sea glass into necklaces, bracelets and earrings, and in the UK you can buy a piece of sea glass jewellery sourced from the Cornish coast all the way up to Northumberland. There are also many tutorials online that can help you to create your own sea glass jewellery, but it is important to be patient as your sea glass can break.
As we start to become more environmentally conscious and there is less waste in the sea, sea glass is less likely to be found, making these pieces all the more rarer. It also makes a piece of sea glass jewellery even more amazing, as what was once rubbish dumped in the ocean, has now been turned into a beautiful piece of art by nature.
Top tips for finding your own sea glass by Sadie Hodgson of Sadie Jewellery
- Check the tides. Low tide is ideal but safety comes first and you definitely don’t want to be caught out. Be sure to check that you won’t get trapped as the tide comes in. Also be aware of cliffs that are unsteady. Especially when there has been unsettled weather.
- Look for piles of shingle and have fun, relax and the glass will jump out at you. Beachcombing is a fantastic way to clear your mind and being out in the fresh air does you a world of good.
- Help to keep our beaches clean and tidy, if you see plastics or litter, pick them up too and recycle where possible.
Happy beachcombing, Sadie x
Our Favourite Sea Glass Retailers
- Sadie Jewellery
Worn by the waves, recycled from the sea. Sadie’s jewellery is delicate, raw and feminine. No two pieces are ever the same; all glass is hand collected from Cornish beaches.
- Drift Jewellery
Fiona Petheram of Drift Jewellery has been making sea glass Jewellery for over 10 years and sells through outlets such as Designers Guild in London. Each piece is made by hand using sea glass she finds either near her home on the Suffolk coast, on in places such as Spain (where she used to live) and The Isles of Sicily. She also often works with customers own sea glass, making unique, one off pieces in sterling silver and 14k gold filled.
- Silver Forager
“In September 2015 I took an evening class in silver-smithing and shortly afterwards discovered sea glass. Living in landlocked Nottingham, sea glass wasn’t something I wasn’t really aware of! I wanted to use sea glass in my jewellery making, so started The Silver Forager in 2016. I collect the sea glass myself then use eco-friendlier methods in my silver-smithing and, where possible, recycled silver for my jewellery. I love making something pretty from what is, effectively, a waste product.”
*You can buy one of Lisa’s pieces of sea glass jewellery by contacting her through one of her social media channels.