If you stroll along the beach looking for sea glass, the odds are good that many of the ones you’ll find will be Kelly green. It’s estimated that approximately one in five to three out of ten pieces of sea glass anyone finds along the shore are Kelly green.
WHY IS THERE SO MUCH KELLY GREEN SEA GLASS?
A lot of sea glass comes in Kelly green because much of the mass produced glass that has been dumped into the ocean has been Kelly green. Automated mass production of glass bottles began in the Untied States in the early 1900s. So for many years, beers like Heineken, Becks and Rolling Rock have come in bottles in the popular Kelly green color as well as soda bottles like Mountain Dew, 7Up, Schwepps and Sprite. Many red wines from the past and in the present also come in Kelly green glass bottles.
DIFFERENT SHADES OF GREEN SEA GLASS
While much of the green sea glass found on beaches is Kelly green and comes from drinking bottles, green sea glass also comes in different shades of rarer greens, many of which are older and not as mass produced, such as lime green, UV lime green, sea foam, teal, jade, forest green, and citron. These color variations occur because many older bottles and household glass containers from the late 1800s to the early 1900s were made with different shades of green tint. Many older green glass containers for whiskey, spirits, and even early bleach bottles also come from different shades of green glass.
THE GREENS OF SEA GLASS
When you find a green piece of sea glass, it’s likely that it can be classified into one of the following shades below:
Kelly Green Sea Glass
Most sea glass collectors find Kelly green sea glass that comes from beer and soda bottles.
Most forest green sea glass comes from wine bottles. It’s hard to date forest green sea glass; however, older shards produced before automation from the late 1800s usually contain air bubbles. To check for bubbles inside sea glass, simply hold a flashlight under the shard and look for the air bubbles within the glass.
Jade Sea Glass
Jade glass was popular in the late 1800s and early 1900s, especially for mineral water bottles in the 1800s. Some wine bottles were also manufactured in the color jade.
Most lime sea glass, like Kelly green, comes from soda bottles; however, fewer lime green bottles were produced than Kelly green. Lime green Depression household glassware like dishes, cups, platters, and bowls were also popular in the early 1900s because they were relatively inexpensive at the time.
UV Lime Green
Some lime green sea glass comes in softer hues and contains safe trace amounts of uranium. These green shards usually appear more like lime yellow than lime green. In the photo above, UV or Vaseline sea glass is in the center. UV Vaseline sea glass glows under a black light. Usually only experienced sea glass collectors can recognize Vaseline sea glass in natural light.
Teal sea glass is rare. The color was used in the late 1800s and early 1900s for containers for household condiments like baking powder, pepper sauce, ink, and mineral water.
Citron sea glass also comes from household containers manufactured during the late 1800s and early 1900s. These lighter green colored glass containers were used a lot for olive oil, fruit jars, and wine bottles.
Sea Foam Sea Glass
Sea foam or light green sea glass comes mostly from beer and soda bottles manufactured during the late 1800s and 1900s. Sea foam was a popular color for Coca-Cola bottles during the early 1900s.
DEEP OLIVE GREEN OR BLACK SEA GLASS
Sometimes a piece of green sea glass is so dark, it’s classified as black sea glass. The only way you can tell it’s black is by holding it up to a light. You’ll see a slight but deep dark olive green glow inside and around the edges.
Black sea glass with a deep olive green hue is extremely rare and likely two to three hundred years old or more. Your odds of finding black sea glass are about 1 in 2,000. The peak production periods were from the 1700s to the 1870s. Finding bubbles inside the shards helps authenticate its history. Before the mass production of glass, the process used to make glass left air bubbles inside the glass.
SEA GLASS JOURNEY
Sea glass is not only beautiful for its appearance, it’s also valuable because of its history and journey through the ocean, a journey that typically occurs over several decades and and sometimes even a few centuries. Sea glass collectors have been finding sea glass that has been dated back as far as the 1700s and earlier.
An old myth about sea glass exists. Some say sea glass is mermaids’ tears. Whenever a sailor was lost at sea, it was believed that mermaids would cry and their tears turned into sea glass that washed up on shores.
MORE SEA GLASS COLORS
If you’re interested in learning more information about the history of sea glass and the rarity of its colors, check out Pure Sea Glass: Discovering Nature’s Vanishing Gems by Richard LaMotte.
LaMott’s book is one of the best informational books about sea glass and a master reference for serious sea glass enthusiasts. See why most reviewers at Amazon rate his book five stars.
Another popular book for sea glass lovers is Mary Beth Bueke’s The Ultimate Guide to Sea Glass: Finding, Collecting, Identifying, and Using the Ocean’s Most Beautiful Stones.