What is Sea Glass?

The most common question I get from people who aren’t familiar with all the special wonders a coastal beach has to offer is …..

What IS Sea Glass? How is it different than machine tumbled or cultured glass I can find at craft stores?

For anyone who is an avid beach comber, this question can be frustrating. In some ways, it is similar to the difference between a Diamond and a Cubic Zirconia. While both are absolutely beautiful, one receives it’s value by the force of nature over the time it takes to be formed, the other is created by machine and receives it’s value by the ability to mimic the one from nature.

The first time I was asked this question, I had only just started collecting myself, so, although I knew what sea glass was, I didn’t realize that cultured glass products were sometimes used in place of authentic sea glass without being marked as cultured glass.

This is the main reason why I wanted to do this post! With many people out on the beaches and becoming more aware of the existence of sea glass, I thought it was important to share what the differences were between the two.

Cobalt Blue Sea Glass found along the Bay of Fundy Coastline.

First, let’s talk about Authentic Sea Glass….

Authentic Sea Glass is made from man-made discarded glass of generations past that has found its way into the sea and been tumbled for decades (possibly centuries), broken down by the tidal currents, crashed against rocks, sand, coral and other ocean life, washed up onto coastal beaches. This beautiful treasure is formed completely by nature, no two pieces are exactly the same.

It can be found on almost any coastal shore, from large pieces to small, shades and patterns can vary, and brighter more vibrant colours are a rarity to find. For the avid sea glass hunter, the common finds are whites, browns, ambers, shades of greens and while some are older than others, the common colours are sought after as well frosted gems. The “Frost” as is most referred to, it the white haze that envelopes the various shades. This frost occurs as the glass is tumbled over time in the salt water, which then creates pits and dings from crashing against the other debris in the water. You can see the “C” marks the ocean debris makes in the glass.

Less common to find are the shades of blues that have been created by old Vick’s and Milk of Magnesia bottles of yesteryear, or manganese rich clear glass of the 1800’s which has changed to a beautiful pale lavender.

The more rare the colour, the less likely it is to find several in the exact same shape, size and frost. Colours such as teals, aquamarines, reds, oranges often come as one of a kind pieces meaning they are highly sought after increasing the prices for many pieces listed in these colours.

There are a variety of queues to let you know you are looking at real authentic sea glass. There is frost, a variety of shapes and sizes as well as many “C” type marks, soft edges.

So how exactly different does real sea glass look compared to cultured or machine tumbled crafting glass you can find at Craft Stores or online?

Consider the following examples:

Notice in the photo above, the piece of cultured glass on the left is very soft with no real pitting or “C” shaped marks while the piece of sea glass on the right is heavily frosted, less see-through, showing an abundance of “C” marks.

  1. Authentic Sea Glass is made by the sea and tumbled onto the coast lines by the waves. It takes nature more than 50 years to transform broken glass into sea glass gems
  2. Cultured “Sea Glass” is manufactured glass made to look like sea glass by use of a rock tumbler.

Whether you are searching for Authentic Sea Glass on your own along quaint coastal towns, online or a local giftshop, or you are looking for the ability to have several pieces designed to look all the same in cultured pieces, the following are a few key descriptions to note & questions to ask your artist:

Key tips to look for when searching for Authentic Sea Glass designs:

  1. Key words to look for in listings: Authentic, Genuine, Surf tumbled, beach found, & ocean tumbled are a great place to start.
  2. Notes the general area where the glass was found ex: Found along the Bay of Fundy Shores
  3. Do they have any photos of the sea glass found in nature?
  4. Does the artist have several of the same rare colour in the same shape and size in their shop?
  5. Cost $$ By definition, rare pieces cost more, so if you see, for example, a large red or Turquoise “sea glass” design for a steal of a deal, it is most likely cultured glass and not authentic.

With Authentic Sea Glass, the Designer is exclusively using what washes up on shore, which makes for more One of a kind Items to choose.

With cultured glass, it gives the Designer the ability to create many of the same design, with a lower price point and with more uniformity.

While both have their advantages in the creative process, there is no doubt in my mind, that the story behind the found piece of sea glass is often even more of a reason to cherish each Sea Gem find ❤

Rare Red Sea Glass

By far, one of the most sought after colours of Sea Glass is Ruby Red. You can usually tell when someone has found one beach combing because there will be shouts of joy coming from the lucky sea glass lover. Many Avid Sea Glass enthusiast look for years without finding a single piece.

Long before Plastic was the vessel of choice, glass had to be made to be affordable to for all income levels. While the Working Class had a demand for simple mass-produced glass vessels; the Wealthy had the ability to purchase more intricately designed pieces.

In the late 1800’s, many different colours of glass were being experimented with varying success.  Red Glass was found to be vibrant enough to be used for Elegant Victorian era style lamps & stained glass windows.

Bohemian style Ruby Glass would be a prime example.  High quality intricate designs required many hours of details to be added by highly trained glass blowers.  A clear glass vessel would be covered with a thin layer of Ruby Red glass then a Glass Artist would hand detail designs in the hot glass mix revealing the clear glass below in the designs. 

Circa early 1900’s – Antique Bohemian Hand Cut Ruby Glass Vase

While it was used in artwork as well as stained glass in the late 1800’s, it was used before that in dark rugged bottles as far back at the 1500’s. 

Red was a colour that could be made with a couple of different metals in the slag glass, but one of the most interesting is Gold.

Deep Dark Red Bottle Bottom with Gold Flecks, Wet to show the Gold Flecks

Adding a precious metal, such as Gold, to the hot molten mix wasn’t for the main stream glassware. Gold mixed in the vessels colour code meant that only the upper Aristocracy, such as Kings, Queens, Dukes & Duchesses could afford such extravagance.

Deep Red Bottle Bottom with back light to show the colour and thickness of the piece.
Found on Campobello Island

In the more main stream (affordable) pieces, red paint would be used instead of expensive red slag and could be done by someone other than a glass artist.  

Red Glass was also very well used for signal lights on shipping and fishing vessels as well emergency beacons. Many mariners have relied on this emergency colour to guide them through the storms and the fog.

Red Sea Glass is definitely one with a great story to tell. With less than 1 in every 5000 pieces of sea glass being this vibrant colour, red sea glass is a rarity to be treasured. ❤

No matter what is found on the beach, each piece of Ocean Treasure has a story and meaning to the right person. Enjoy the hunt, feel the breeze on your face, the sand beneath your feet and discover the story behind that special lost piece of history.

Happy Glassin.

Salisha ❤

Bottles, Jars, Glasses! Oh My!

White, Green and Brown Sea Glass

Previously, I shared what sea glass is and how it’s formed. In light of the 1st Campobello Island Sea Glass festival, I thought I would share more detail on the the most common colours you will find along most coastlines. Those colours being white (clear), green or brown, it only makes sense to start with where these gems originated.

Green Sea Glass, frosted from years of tumbling in the salt waters of the Bay of Fundy.

Most sea glass comes from old broken bottles that have found their way into the ocean currents. Before the mid 20th century when plastics became the container of choice, glass was the main method of storing and transporting liquids and other goods. Various bottles would be formed for everything from milk jugs to beer/ medicine bottles.

Ferry Landing on Campobello Island, New Brunswick.

White, Green and Brown sea glass are undoubtedly the most common colours found on beaches, but that doesn’t mean each varied shade doesn’t have a story, some value and character.

Just because it is common doesn’t mean it’s not special. The easiest colour for glass makers to create, long before automated bottle machines was Kelly Green. The mix of minerals was readily available and it filtered some of the light that could spoil liquids being stored in the glass vessels.

Special markings, letters, embossing or even shapes ( think heart shaped) can make a common piece of Kelly Green sea glass and make it so much more special.

“MAD NADA” or Made in Canada, with the soft edged bottle neck in the foreground. The beauty of these pieces comes from so much more than the simple colours. They have stories. Each Piece has tumbled around in the waves for decades to wash up soft and frosted with the marks of a great adventure.

Brown Sea Glass in various hues

Brown sea glass comes from mainly bottles produced for beer, liquors, wines, medicines, and other liquids that would spoil when exposed to sunlight.

White Sea Glass some with ridges from being a bottle’s edge.

White or Clear sea glass, can come from a number of sources, such as mason type jars, windows, mirrors, beverage glasses to name a few.

While out walking the beaches, searching for those special pieces, and come across any of these three colours, take a moment to take a closer and see if you can find it’s story. It may be that special gem you’re looking for! ❤


When I’ve had Enough loss and despair to bring me to my knees, Enough self-loathing & Self-deprecating humor to distort what my eyes could clearly see.

When I’ve had enough of the tears, the Heartbreak and the pain, of what the “Old Me” felt responsible to feel like a cold torrential rain.

I’ve had enough trauma to find that deep dark well, where I stayed far long enough to stew in my own personal Hell. Enough of the toxic energy that made me sicker still.

I’ve had enough disrespect to learn my patience and understanding is rare, a treasure to be cherished, not tossed side as a spare.

I am finding enough good in the days to outweigh any bad.  I will use what I was blessed with, and celebrate all my life has had. I’ve known true love, family & friendship, all heroes in my eyes, as they could see in me, what my mind, for so long, disguised.

I know I am enough, I work hard at it Every Single Day, I keep moving forward and count my blessings in so many ways.

Legend Of Mermaid Tears

Shades of Blue with various aging of glass. From super smooth and frosted to a few sharp edges from tumbling, these pieces have been riding through the currents.

*Mermaid Tears*

**Sparkling Gems of Love in Unlimited Magical Colours to soothe the Hearts of all who find them**


Legend tells of a Mermaid who came to love a Ship’s Captain. One day, the Mermaid watched the Captain and his ship enter a huge ocean storm. Using the power Mermaid’s have over the seas, she calmed the storm to save the Captain’s life.

However, Neptune, God of the Sea, had forbid Mermaids to use this power interfere with humankind. As punishment, Neptune banished the Mermaid to the bottom of the ocean, never to be allowed near her Captain again.

It is said that her tears wash ashore as glass gems in magical mermaid colours. The colour of these gems is said to reflect the colour of the Mermaid’s tails.


Sea Glass Chakra Colours

How sad this Folklore is, but many Folklore do come as sad tales of lost loves.

It is a reminder to us to live, take chances and open our hearts to the world, for it can be lost.

Finding the Beauty in Nature

Have you ever been in a space where you just feel free? Where your soul feels at peace just to be present?

This is how I have always felt about the beach. Either by listening to the waves against the shore, the sea birds calling to each other, ocean life showing itself in unique ways full of wonder.

Finding any treasure washed up from the sea is a joy, but simply being able to see the beauty in the Ocean itself and all the power it has on our environment.

I took the picture below two days ago. It was grey, cold & windy and downright NOT Florida weather. I was a bit irritated by my lack of preparedness for forgetting to bring long pants and thicker hooded jacket with me to visit a friend.

Kathryn Hanna Park March 5th.

Then I took this photo.

It’s not particularly stunning with its grey on grey tones. It doesn’t necessarily inspire or create Awe. Some would describe it as blah or somewhat boring.

This is what I saw once it really looked at the water…

There are 3 separately formed waves in this photo with multiple beginnings happening in the background.

A beginning, middle & end, with multiple chances to remake the story with each new succession of waves.

However, as each wave ends, it slides back under the next oncoming wave to recycle what it has drawn from the beach into the ocean.

It is always recreating. It is always moving. It is always changing.

Listening to it makes me stop, breathe deep, and appreciate all my senses. I can clear my mind, process questions, or do nothing more than sit and continue to breathe in & out.

The Beauty of Nature is that no matter what mood it personifies, there is beauty in the creation. ❤

#beachcombers #nature #beautyinnature #beautyincreation #zen #anxiety #EastCoastLiving #coastallife

Sea Glass…. Not just a piece of broken glass

A Lavender Crystal Dish Topper on Campobello Island. This Piece would be over 100 years old

Earlier this week, I opened with where I was from and who I was, but I realized I never really introduced myself.  My name is Salisha Tatton, creator behind East Coast Sea Gems.  By turning Genuine New Brunswick found Sea Glass into works of art, jewelry and home décor, I am sharing a passion I started after working on finding a balance between being chronically ill and wanting to be productive and feel useful.

I decided to start this blog to share with those who want to know about sea glass, where it’s from, what it is, why there is so much history behind it.  In sharing my love for sea glass, I can’t help but share about life on the East Coast of Canada; what it’s like to live in smaller Maritime communities; how the coastal life is one of love for the Ocean and respect for its enormous power.

I also wanted to share how life with chronic illness and loss, although very hard to accept life within it’s confines, has helped me to appreciate the joy in living again; to share ways I found to deal with deep depression, sadness and chronic pain.  To share with others that they aren’t alone, there are those who understand, who can empathize, listen and just be there.

“Made in Canada”
Shades of Green Sea Glass at various stages of aging, all found on New Brunswick shores.

Sea Glass is formed when glass finds its way into the ocean and bay currents. Anywhere salt water flows is a potential creator of Sea Glass. It goes into the ocean created as a man made vessel, used for one purpose, eventually being discarded when it’s purpose is done, for the ocean to tumble & recreate. 

Tossed around in the waves, broken, beaten by the currents, crashed against rocks, sand & coral, only after decades (possible centuries) of having the edges worn against the waves do these pieces of smooth, frosted gems of glass sparkle on the shorelines for sea glass hunters to find, cherish and re-purpose into a new life.

Sea Glass in Brown, Aqua, & Sea Foam Green, found on Campobello Island, New Brunswick.

There are so many similarities between the story of sea glass and the story of Life.

We begin life by being created by a human. We grow, learn, & change as our environment does. We break down, re-create ourselves, our personality changes, we gain wisdom with each fractured story, we gain strength with each stumble, we gain independence as we tumble through the current, that, at times, seems to drag us through life, kicking and screaming. The original model we were born as no longer exists, the current of life has overhauled our view of the world. Every celebration creates growth, every tragedy creates transformation, every decision creates variations in the path of life. Not one experience is the same as another’s.

Lime Green Sea Glass. Soft Frosted edges mean old glass and hard currents.

Such is the same with sea glass. Each piece is formed by tides that surround it. Pieces are broken down over time, but the edges soften, those that make it shore create joy, wonder, a quest for knowledge on the history and a thirst for wanting to discover.

In sea glass I see so much more than a piece of broken glass. It is a reminder that we all change over time, with each moment that passes, our rough edges are worn smooth, our looks change, our purpose changes.

Like sea glass, we transform and either wash up on the beach as a treasure or stay out at sea tumbling until we find the right current to travel.

Shades of Blue Sea Glass

Lower Duck Pond, Campobello Island, NB

How my love for the beach saved my broken soul…

Thank you for stopping by….

I thought I would share a little bit about who I am & how I decided to start this journey of self discovery, healing and happiness.

Born in Southern New Brunswick, Canada along the Bay of Fundy, where the World’s Highest tides ebb & flow with the moon’s cycle, I’ve always felt most at home on the beach, with the sound of waves crashing against the shore.

As a child, I spent many summers along those shorelines, running in the waves, watching hermit crabs, building sand castles and looking for unique beach finds.  Little did I know that some 30+ years later, searching those very beaches would help me to find a new path to life and peace of mind.

I was blessed to have a wonderful mother, who not only worked hard to take care of myself and my younger brother as a single parent, but worked hard to give us memorable experiences.   We grew up knowing that we were loved, cherished and cared for. Mom always made sure we had experiences to shape our views of the world, through Scouting/Guides, Air Cadets, music lessons, school activities as well as family activities and outings with friends. 

Our family vacation were spent around New Brunswick, camping in Fundy National Park or another campground, swimming, hiking, learning about nature, about our local fish, sea life, fauna and flora as well as learning how to be empathetic to the world around us. 

Me, on the New Brunswick Northern Coastline.
My 4 legged side kick, Poncho, on Campobello Island, NB

As I grew older, I continued to find peace and solace at the beach. It was a space I could clear my head, quietly reflect on the whatever was going on full speed in my head and relax. As time went on, life also got busier. Life has a way of taking you on a road, sometimes with so many twists and turns, you get lost trying to find your way back. This was my road to travel.

Soon, University became my focus. It took me inland to Saint Thomas University, in Fredericton, NB. Long forgotten was the peace of mind I found at the beach and soon became a whirlwind the chaos of university course load, working, dating, friends, family, parties & life brings.

I was focused on a university career that I really didn’t have a clue on where I would take it. I was already working in the health care field, amassing the required work hours I needed for a degree in Psychology & Gerontology. I went to classes, worked, spent time with friends, and slept. I had little time for “mental health.” In fact, back then in the mid 1990’s, mental health wasn’t even mentioned with the exception of skipping a class and calling it a “mental health day”, which it truly was. Some of us would get so overwhelmed by the workload required that the only thing we could do was just shut ourselves into our dorm rooms and hope the Anxiety would pass.

By 4th year, I was living on my own, working 40-50 hours a week with youth at risk, seniors and those with mental illnesses, going to school full time and still trying to BE everything to everyone I cared about. I was exhausted.

Life in my 20’s was both a blessing and a curse. I met the man I was going to spend the rest of my life with, little did we know, life had other plans. I was finishing my undergraduate and was planning a future towards Medical School, working as a specialist in Dementia and Senior mental health.

Then the world came to a crashing halt. This man, who I thought I would grow old with, that I would love forever, was diagnosed with Cancer. A rare form of bone cancer that had developed in his cartilage in his hip. At the age of 22, he started going through Chemo treatments and I started trying to keep it together so he could focus on beating this damn disease!

Patrick & myself, 9 months into dating, June 2001

It would be 3.5 years from the day I met him until Cancer took him. My world spiraled. Nothing felt right, life pretty much sucked. Although I loved my job as an Activity Director at a nursing home, I wasn’t mentally engaged enough to do a truly good job. I realize now, how deep into depression I had sunk. At 26 years old, my world had fallen apart.

Feeling broken, alone, sad, heart sick, I began to feel physically ill from all the stress, I already had a couple of chronic health issues, psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis & Depression didn’t help these conditions at all. The stress caused many days of pain, side effects from medications and a loss of interest in life. I gained weight, worked way too much, slept too much and lived life very little. Then I got seriously ill and wasn’t able to work myself. It would be 10 years after Patrick had passed before I would truly find some light again to help me find my way out of the darkness.

My first step to finding my way back to living was finally meeting those people in person who I had been chatting with for 10 years in an online young widows support group. No one thinks that in your 20’s, you will lose a spouse. No one thinks how much that loss shapes who you become as an adult. No one realizes both the physical and mental toll that takes on how you view the world, how you respond to others, interact with society, how society treats you after. This group of people got it. They had all experienced the heart wrenching loss of their spouse, how their world broke down around them, nothing felt right and it never felt as though it ever would. By meeting them, it felt right to be with these people who just understood and had no judgement. I didn’t feel so alone.

Fort Lauderdale 2014 Widdabago

The next step was to get back to spending time with family and friends. I had friends who had faded away as I went through these life changes. Some not knowing how to talk to me, not knowing how what they could do to support me. Some friends stayed and were there and loved me even when I didn’t love myself.

I was diagnosed at 32 with Chronic Migraine Syndrome as well as Fibromyalgia & Osteoarthritis. Chronic pain had forced me to stop working. I couldn’t think, I couldn’t leave my house for days on end, and I was in such agony, my mom would hear me on the other end of the phone line sobbing. It felt like another set back, like life just kept kicking me in the head & the heart.

I began to spend time with a coworker who was also going through her own struggles with Chronic Illnesses and misdiagnosis. Over time, we shared our stories, researched and shared our methods of coping with the chronic pain. One of her ways to help her was to beach comb, looking for pieces of sea treasures, whatever they may be.

Myself, Lisa & Larry

How could I have forgotten how much peace the beach gave me? How could I forget how much healing the sound of the waves could bring, the call of the sea birds would make me smile, the joy of finding treasures left by the ocean swells to collect and admire?

Lower Duck Pond, Campobello Island, New Brunswick

This is just the beginning of how I found myself, of how I reworked my life to include being happy, mentally healthy, finding adventure wherever the waves send me and bringing my love for the ocean & beach into a creativity I never knew I possessed.

Just like a piece of sea glass that is tumbled through rough seas to be deposited on a lonely beach for someone to discover & treasure, I felt like my life was very similar. Tossed into darkness, thrown around by heartbreak and despair, finally deposited into a quiet spot where I could find a way to just be, this is just the beginning of my story and where I came from.

I look forward to sharing more about my journey and to sharing what my love for the Ocean has done to help heal my soul……

“Go to the Sea, To leave your Troubles & Find your Treasures.