Rose-colored glasses might be exactly what you need for hunting pink sea glass on the shore. While the soft pastel shade or sometimes peachier hue is a collector favorite, it is indeed rare. You can be fairly certain that true pink sea glass likely originated as some form or piece of Depression glass.
Depression glass was developed in the earlier part of the 20th century as an affordable alternative to expensive crystal. Makers of Depression glass such as Anchor-Hocking, Federal Glass, Hazel-Atlas, and Lancaster Glass Companies sold their wares at country shops and five-and-dime stores, and they often included free pieces along with household goods such as flour sacks, coffee canisters, and even free with store-bought oatmeal. Depression glass was mass-produced from roughly the 1920s until the 1940s and made in many popular colors. Today, glass collectors consider the pink Depression glass a prized find, with some historians insisting it is the favorite Depression glass color.
Pink glass, if intentionally colored, may include gold oxide in lesser amounts than needed to create true red glass or even cranberry glass. But pink glass, like the equally popular lavender sea glass, may not have been created intentionally. Manganese, a decolorizing agent used in glass making to neutralize the effects of too much iron in the sand used, can also sometimes result in pink glass when exposed to sunlight or radiation over time. Hence, like its purple partner, pink glass is sometimes referred to as “sun pink” glass.
Selenium was another element that had a hand in the making of pink glass. Used in lesser amounts it might have been used as a de-colorizer, like manganese, and similarly, the glass would discolor after years of exposure. But selenium could also have been used in greater amounts to purposely produce pink back in the early 20th century.
Art glass is another source of beach-found pink glass. Murano and Fenton and other makers of fancy (non-utilitarian) glass often used less common colors in their creations. Additionally, pink-colored glass beads for jewelry might be another original form of the pick glass fragment you’ve found. Many sea glass charts will put pink glass at the “rare to very rare” end of the spectrum. It is less common than cobalt and sun purple, but not as rare as true black or orange glass—and pretty in pink all the same!
This article appeared in the Beachcombing Magazine May/June 2019 issue