Reflecting the colors of sea and sky…
and a tropical beach paradise, there is nothing quite like the aqua sea glass family of colors.
While these glowing gems seem right at home nestled in a tide pool or washed up by a gentle wave, they are some of the rarest of all sea glass colors. How they came to be a sea glass hunter’s dream discovery is quite the story… and it all begins with aquamarine glass.
All About Aqua Sea Glass
First, with a nod to our friends the bottle collectors, aqua is actually a shortened version of aquamarine. Aqua glass was given its name due to the beautiful gemstone that shares its color.
Second, to understand where aqua sea glass comes from, you need an understanding of how to make glass – well, a Cliff Notes version anyway!
Most of the glass we know and love is silica glass… and it has only three base ingredients. (Modern safety and tempered glasses are more complex, but sea glass is simple silica glass.) So, all sea glass comes from glass vessels made with this basic formula:
Sand + Soda + Limestone = Glass!
That’s it! Get them in the right proportions, heat them properly, and you have glass… and the ancient world discovered this magic blend about 5,000 years ago. However, there was a slight complication to this blissfully simple recipe. You see, iron (which is terribly sneaky as it turns out) is present in almost all sand. So early glass makers, right through to the middle ages, got some tint of green glass every time they made a vessel!
Glassmakers soon discovered that by adding minerals to the molten glass they could produce other colors. Cobalt oxide gave them blue glass, higher concentrations of copper led to vibrant greens, etc. It wasn’t until the 1500s that clear glass was invented!
Through the use of minerals like manganese, the iron and copper that natural occurred in glass could be neutralized, giving the glassmaker colorless glass – at least for a time. Early mineral neutralizers reacted with the UV rays of the sun by turning their host glass another color – in manganese’s case – purple. For more on the story of sun purple sea glass click here>
But in the end it was often easier to control the color of glass that to decolorize it. And with the discovery that copper in the proper quantities would give glass a light to vibrant aqua hue that could be consistently reproduced, the rise of aqua glass was born.
Vastly popular from the mid-1800’s through the 1930’s, aqua was the color of choice for fruit jars, canning jars – like the famous Ball Perfect Mason jar, and beer, soda, mineral water and medicine bottles.
And, not to be forgotten is the glass insulator. Aqua was the most common color used for the glass insulators that adorned every telephone pole throughout North America.
But remember that colorless glass invented in the 1500’s? Well, in the early 1900’s glassmakers finally discovered how to create colorless glass that remained colorless. Food producers quickly shifted to the clear glass that showed off their products to advantage, and the reign of aqua glass came to an end.
Now, we look with fondness on these lovely-hued antiques when we come across them at a swap meet or antique store – what was once a work-a-day item for our great-great grandparents is a lovely treasure of the past to us.
The deeper the aqua, the rarer the sea glass. Most aqua sea glass is over 100-years-old. Many of these sea glass shards are thick, bubbly and have the vibrant inner glow of the ocean itself. While many aqua bottles were made, due to its age, aqua sea glass is quite rare, and the vibrant, more intense bright aqua is ultra rare.
No matter its intensity, aqua sea glass is truly glorious. Reflecting the colors of the beach, it never fails to delight when you come across a surf-tumbled shard on the shore.
All About Turquoise Sea Glass
Ah, turquoise sea glass! My favorite, and the dream find of many a sea glass hunter… it is not unusual for even life-long hunters to have never found one of the startlingly bright sea glass gems.
Now that you’ve gotten a handle on aqua sea glass, it’s time to move on to its ultra rare cousin – the legendary turquoise sea glass! Even more rare than red, turquoise is the rarest of all the aqua and blue hued sea glass. Much more vivid than even aqua, true turquoise sea glass is an electric shade that shines on the shore.
By the careful blending of a tich of copper with cobalt glass, glassmakers are rewarded with the vibrant glow of true turquoise glass. But getting the color just right, and producing it consistently was a major headache back in the late 1800’s to early 1900’s – the heyday of colored glass production.
So turquoise became the sweetheart of the decorative glass producers. Vases, elaborate bottles and seltzer bottles as well as art glass were sometimes produced in the bright turquoise we love. Turquoise was used more for pressed glass items than blown glass vessels, and turquoise sea glass is sometimes still discovered with the subtle tracings of these patterns displayed across its frosty surface.
Most of our turquoise sea glass comes from England or the Caribbean. Patterned turquoise glass from windows is sometimes found on warm tropical beaches in the Caribbean. This bright hued glass was used in window panes to filter out the blazing Caribbean sunlight. These pattered pieces are a coveted rarity.
All About Teal Sea Glass
Teal sea glass might be the rarest in this color family. Like turquoise, producing teal glass was an iffy business. Blending the cobalt, iron and chromium in just the right proportions at just the right time was so difficult that holding a consistent color from batch to batch was just not cost effective for a production bottle.
So, few glassware items were ever made using this color – a dusky blue green that reflects the churning waves a stormy sea. However, prior to the 1950s, teal glass was produced in limited quantities for holding things like ink, baking soda and mineral water.
Teal sea glass ranges from greenish blue grey to bright gray blue green. When studied in a grouping, it is easy to see that almost every teal sea glass shard is a little bit different in tint, shade or hue from the others. Together, they make up some of the most rare and appealing of all the sea glass colors.
Aqua, Turquoise and Teal Sea Glass – Five Fascinating Facts
1. While teal glass was a pain to produce, this ultra-rare, ultra-cool color was used for early hot sauce bottles!
2. Old aqua bottles with hand-applied tops were so thick that you can still find pieces of aqua sea glass with the applied “blob top” intact.
3. Turquoise sea glass is ultra-rare, but one of the easiest colors to spot on the beach – it glows on dark and light sands alike!
4. Old aqua glass tends to be super-bubbly, so be sure to study any aqua sea glass by holding it to the light… it’s the best way to spot those bubbles in thick sea glass.
5. Aqua glass has been in production for over 3,000 years. Kinda boggles the mind, doesn’t it?
Aqua, Turquoise and Teal Sea Glass Jewelry
The color of the sea in its many forms, the aqua family of sea glass is literally born of sea and sky. Whether the soft aqua glow of the sea in the sunshine, the blazing brightness of the tropical turquoise shoreline or the dusk hue of a storm-tossed teal sea, this sea glass family brings the calm and cleansing of one of nature’s most powerful colors.
Revered throughout time for its ability to sooth and heal, aqua colors symbolize security and serenity. Wearing aqua can assist you in finding stillness and harmony in a noisy, busy world. Said to improve intuition and creativity, aqua has been considered to be lucky by sailors throughout time.
It’s time to put on your aqua, turquoise and teal sea glass when you are seeking emotional balance, spiritual grounding, joy and tranquility. By the time you aqua, turquoise or teal sea glass has reached you, it has been touched by nature for decades. It’s infused with the song of the sea and ready to impart its special brand of peace by the time it is discovered on the sand.
The Rarity of Turquoise, Teal And Aqua Sea Glass
These sea glass colors range from the rare of aqua to the ultra rare of turquoise and teal. For each of these precious sea glass shards, hundreds of hours have been spent searching the shore for the bygone treasures of yesteryear.
Discovering a unique hue, like aqua, teal or turquoise, is true bliss… because it doesn’t happen very often – but it is the reward for dedicated beachcombing. Each of these little sea glass treasures has been celebrated again and again. Once when found, again when crafted into a one-of-a-kind piece of jewelry, and every time you put on one of these glowing sea gems.