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Rare Sea Glass

Rare Sea Glass and Rare Beach Glass - Why is it hard to find? How can I find it?

Here, we will focus on finding rare beach glass - why certain beaches have the rare colors and why others don't.

On this page:cranberry glass may end up as rare sea glass

What makes certain colors of sea glass rare depends basically on:

  • First, and the most important, the relative amount of glass produced in certain colors by the glass industry, ie, more green glass produced by the industry, more green shards, less rare.

  • Second, to a minor extent, if the production of that glass took place near a shore (dumped directly from the factory or shop).

To look at these factors in more detail, let's first break the glass (well, not literally) down into two categories.

Rare Sea Glass
Rare Sea Glass Colors
A slice of medium-rare to rare sea glass colors

Two Categories of Glass and their Relation to Rare Sea Glass

To simplify matters, we will divide glass into two categories, both of which produce rare sea glass under the right conditions:

  • Production glass - Mass produced in large quantities, most likely glass formed in molds rather than blown.
  • Designer glass - One-of-a-kind glass that was made as art work or for a number of other special purposes.

Let's look at these two categories in more detail now.


Briefly, what we will call production glass is glass that was produced in large quantities and was used for everyday products. Generally, production glass was produced for three uses:Rare Production Glass Colors - OdysseySeaGlass.com

1. The first and by far the largest production of glass has been for clear glass for bottles or windows; also, the common colors of glass for bottles (brown and green, for example).

2. The next type of production glassware, in terms of quantity, would probably be that of dinnerware.

  • Although mass produced, the quantity of glass made for dinnerware does not come close to the glass used for bottles and windows. 

  • The colors of dinnerware glass are much more varied and this is really where we begin to see more of the rarer sea glass colors

3. The third type of production glass has been made for decor such as mass-produced lamps, vases, knick-knacks, etc.

We could also include in this third group utilitarian glass, ie, warning lights, insulators, sparkplugs, etc.
Rare Production Glass Colors
 Click photo to zoom - Some of the rare sea glass colors found in designer glass.

  • Colors used in these production items were generally one clear color throughout. However, combined colors and blended colors were used also. (See Colors - How is Sea Glass Made).
  • Some of the colored production glass (examples would be Depression Ware and Carnival glass) although produced in a large quantity, may have been only produced for a relatively-short period of time, and therefore much less common. Shards from this type of glass make rare sea glass.

The photo here shows colors one might find on any beach, that is, colors used in production glass, although thecolors shown are not nearly as common as the standard white, greens, and browns.


What we will call designer glass was made specifically for artistic objects and is especially sought after as rare sea glass.

This would include much of the blown glass, most stained glass, and other more expensive and artistic one-of-a-kind uses. Many times, this glass will be fused, laminated, and mixed.
James Hailey designer sea glass

  • Designer glass is generally not just one color throughout but a blend or combination of colors and may have iridescent, opalescent, or other special qualities.
  • Rare designer glass of this type is almost impossible to find on your average beach, but rather is found in decent quantities only near a glassmaker's shop or art glass production centers.
  • On the other hand, isolated pieces are to be found in old community or homestead dumps; in other words, just about anywhere; and this does make your search of any beach exciting!

What are the chances of you finding a rare piece of glass?

Pretty good, actually...if you spend time at it.

To see one of our contributor's (Toshi) excellent comments regarding perseverance, click here

It's like fishing.If you go out fishing off the pier at the local beach, you may catch a lot of the common smaller fish.

BUT, there is always the chance of catching "the big one."There's always a chance of finding rare sea glass

The same is true of sea glass. However, like a fisherman who plans a fishing trip, you also can narrow the beaches down to the more likely good "sea glass fishing" beaches.

How? Do some research. There may be an unknown (to sea glass fans) special beach near where you are or will be going.

To know what to look for, go next to Identifying a Good Sea Glass Beach.

If you do find a piece of rare sea glass, please share it!

A Note on Size and Shape:

It should be noted that rarity will also be affected by size and shape.

For example, a green glass marble is a lot rarer than green bottle glass. And a red piece that is little larger than a grain of salt is not nearly as rare as the same color the size of a quarter.

Shapes and their origins are discussed on other pages on this site.

See also these related pages:

Collecting Sea Glass
How to Grade Sea Glass
Collecting Sea Glass
Where Sea Glass Comes From?
Collecting Sea Glass
Finding Sea Glass
Collecting Sea Glass
Pure Sea Glass Identification Deck

Orange Sea Glass
Orange Sea Glass
Black Sea Glass
Black Sea Glas
Sea Glass
Red Sea Glass
Blue Sea Glass
Yellow Orange Sea Glass Colors

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