The Colors and Rarity of Sea Glass

By Ann Fisk

bowl of colorful sea glass and shellsBeachcomber Ann Fisk has been collecting sea glass and seashells for years. She belongs to Florida’s East Coast Sea Glass Club, where she has shared a presentation about sea glass colors and their sources. Her talk includes information about where sea glass comes from (mostly from bottles), the most common colors (mostly from mass-produced bottles), rare colors (mostly from tableware), and information on dating your sea glass finds (look for bubbles in thick glass to find the oldest pieces).

presentation about beach glass colors

One of the fun parts of Ann’s presentation is her use of photography to illustrate where the different sea glass colors typically originated, showing a historical piece next to sea glass from her collection. Following is just some of the information about sea glass colors from Ann’s talk.


Common Colors

brown and green sea glass

Brown

Beverage and medicine bottles.

Clear

Milk and soda bottles, window glass, jars.

Kelly Green

Beer and soda bottles.


Uncommon Colors

uncommon sea glass colors

Sea Foam Green

Coca-Cola, beer, and soda bottles.

Soft Blue

Jars, medicine bottles, window glass.

Forest Green

Wine bottles, glass fishing floats.

Amber

Liquor, medicine, and cleaning product bottles, as well as some decorative glass.

Lime Green

Lemon-lime soda bottles and tableware. Vaseline Glass or Canary Glass containing uranium glows under UV light.


Rare Colors

milk glass blue and pink beach glass

Opaque White, Green, Blue, Pink, Yellow

Tableware, cosmetic jars, and art glass.

Cornflower Blue

Early medicine or cure bottles, tableware, cosmetic bottles and jars.

Pink

Tableware and decorative pieces. Some clear glass containing manganese turns pink in sunlight over time.

purple cobalt citron aqua beach glass

Purple

Amethyst-colored decorative pieces and tableware. Some clear glass containing manganese turns purple in sunlight over time. True purple glass has manganese and iron.

Cobalt Blue

Medicine, poison, and cosmetic bottles and jars, as well as some decorative pieces and tableware.

Citron

Oil, wine, and food containers and bottles.

Aquamarine

Canning jars, electrical insulators, and soda, mineral water, and medicine bottles.


Extremely Rare Colors

gray black teal sea glass

Gray

Tableware and flat glass. True Gray glass contains iron oxide or selenium. Clear glass containing lead turns gray in sunlight over time.

Black

Bottles from the 1700s to 1800s were made with dark olive green or dark amber glass—that often looks black—to protect contents from sunlight. Amethyst glass and insulator glass are dark purple but can appear black.

Teal

Mineral water, ink, wine, and sauce bottles. Sake bottles and glass fishing floats from Japan.

yellow red orange rare sea glass

Yellow

Tableware and decorative pieces. Some clear glass containing selenium turns yellow in sunlight over time. Vaseline Glass or Canary Glass containing uranium glows under UV light.

Red

Auto, railroad, and marine lights, as well as Victorian lamps, decorative pieces, and tableware.

Orange

Decorative pieces and auto and marine reflectors. Not widely used in commercial bottles.

electric blue turquoise sea glass color

Turquoise or Electric Blue

Decorative glass, seltzer bottles, pressed glass, and bottles. 


Thanks to Ann for sharing her presentation and her collection!

Ann Fisk would like to thank Richard LaMotte for the sea glass color rarity information in her article. You can find the information and more in the Pure Sea Glass Identification Deck by Richard LaMotte. Ann has enjoyed meeting Richard at sea glass festivals and, like many in the beachcombing community, considers him the expert on sea glass identification.

This article appeared in the Beachcombing Magazine September/October 2022 issue.

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