Rare Sea Glass

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Some people who stroll along the beach don’t look twice at some of the beautiful frosty, colorful glass that has been placed back on the shore by the tide after years of tumbling in the ocean. Others, however, appreciate the value of sea glass and understand the living ocean’s powers to expel trash and rejuvenate itself.

But because the planet has gone greener and plastic has replaced a lot of glass bottles, sea glass is becoming harder to find. More and more, people are learning to understand and appreciate the value of these precious gems weathered by the sea, especially rarer sea glass colors.

Rare Sea Glass

Sea Glass Color, Shape, Origens, and Age


The thing that most defines the rarity of sea glass is its colors.

  • Extremely rare sea glass includes orange, red, turquoise and yellow.
  • Rare colors include purple or amethyst, pink, aqua also called cornflower, black, teal green, gray and lime green.
  • Somewhat hard to find colors include cobalt blue, green opaque, sea foam green and honey brown or honey amber. Milk glass sea glass, which is opaque and not transparent when wet, is also rare. Mostly, it comes is soft pastel colors like blue, green, and yellow.
  • The most common colors are green, brown and white.

The Many Different Colors of Sea Glass

rare teal and milk glass sea glass

The most common colors, green, brown and white, come from the abundant production of glass bottles during the first half of the 20th century.
Much of the rarer sea glass consisting of colors such as red, turquoise, yellow, teal and black were likely produced during the first half and before the 20th century as tableware and other household items.
Many soft pastel colored shards come from decorative Depression glass tableware.
rare sea glass 2

Shape and Markings

In addition to color, the shape and markings of sea glass also determine its rarity.

Rare shapes include bottle necks, bottle rims, bottle bottoms, bottle stoppers, marbles and beads. Sea glass with patterned etchings, multicolors and unique shapes like hearts are also considered rare.


The frosting and rounded edges on sea glass can tell a lot about age. Most sea glass needs to have been “weathered,”  meaning tossing and turning in the water and sand for at least fifteen to thirty years depending on the conditions of its environment to have a frosted and rounded finish. The thicker and more frosted a shard is, the more likely it’s older.

A lot sea glass hunters toss a specimen back into the ocean if it has any clear, shinny spots on it and the edges are not fully rounded.

rare gray sea glass


Sometimes, however, sea glass with little frosting and rounded edges may in fact be a lot older than it appears. It depends on the type and conditions of the water it’s been found. Things like pH levels and strength of water movement affect the appearance of sea glass.

Some sea glass has been been floating around in the ocean for many centuries. For example, one sea glass collector on the east coast of the United States found  a rare black piece of sea glass from a snout-nosed gin bottle she dated back to the late 1700s.

rare black sea glass


The origin of a piece of sea glass usually depends on where its found. Most sea glass comes from beer and soda bottles from the mid to late 20th century. Tableware and basic utility glass also make up a good portion of sea glass from this same era.

The rarer the color, the more likely its origens go further back in time. The rarest colors of sea glass usually come from vanity ware and vases. Most rare sea glass is difficult to date.

You could spend years analyzing sea glass in books or on the Internet to try and discover the origin of a specific piece of sea glass. You could also take sea glass to an expert who may be able to estimate where it came from.

Finding Rare Sea Glass

Finding rare sea glass is challenging, but just consider the odds. The more sea glass you find, the more likely you are to find some rare ones.

cobalt blue and sea foam