Over the past 20 years, red sea glass in particular, has become somewhat of a rock star (excuse the pun). Here we've compiled a few words about red sea glass... it is said to be the most coveted of the many sea glass colors. Where does it originate from? Why is it so rare? And can it be found anymore today?
Below: A smooth, rare red gem found on a very pebbly, remote shore. After years of studying thousands of pieces, both from our collection and after interviewing and seeing hundreds of other collector's compilations from across the globe, it's a proven fact that red is one of the most difficult colors of sea glass to find. I hear collectors profess that it can take a lifetime of hunting to find just one piece.
Below: A Pacific Ocean nautical, buoy signal. This intact find won first place at one of the International Beachcomber's Conferences that I spoke at. It won a blue ribbon for being such a unique find. These glass lensed (not plastic, which show a more modern style) indicators helped aid boats and ships where to navigate.
It is very exceptional to find one with the glass still intact. The ridged glass helped with reflection and refractivity. Notice the angular pattern in the lantern glass. Sometimes a small shard of red sea glass will show a pattern, rim or embossing. These markings can help identify the piece.
Almost every time I work at a show, a dozen or more shoppers make a point of mentioning to me that they have been informed that red sea glass is rare. The enjoyable part of the discussion is conversing with them about why their piece is so special.
What is so special about red sea glass? One reason is that red glass was not mass produced much at all in the US due to the expense of the colorants needed to create pigment. One of the main metal compounds that helps create the color in the glass is from gold oxide! This explains the main reason why red sea glass is so rare. It was really only used for specialty glass. If you do have a piece of red sea glass, it can originate from such items as signal lanterns, car and boat light lenses that were made from glass prior to about 1950 when glass pieces were being replaced with plastics.
In my lifetime of sea glass collecting, I have seen a few pieces of sea glass that could be directly attributed to a buoy lens like this. One ridged piece was found by me along a Salish Sea shore. The other was found by a customer who came to by my jewelry booth in New Jersey to have me identify her rather large chunk. I was able to pull up this exact image above from my website and tell her precisely what her piece originated from.
Though I have quite a few pieces of red, most are tumbled so smooth that it is especially unique to find them with identifying marks like the ridge marks or faceting that is seen in lens glass.
The reason why we have more than just a couple pieces in our collection is because ours is a older collection from decades of searching that was done long before the recent popularity of sea glass. Today such quantities and quality is unheard of.
In addition to the known car lenses, taillights, lanterns etc., there are other vessels which were historically created with red glass. Fancy tableware, ornate carafes, hat pin beads, game pieces, high end drinkware etc. Here are a few images of some lovely, historical pieces.
Some of our most beautiful pieces of jewelry are hand made with the delicate and highly sought after, vintage red. Have a peek at our Red Sea Glass Jewelry Here