What is the rarest sea glass?
After a few years of collecting sea glass, I began to doubt that I’d ever find one of those colors that takes your breath away. After looking faithfully for hundreds of hours, my husband managed to find that most elusive color of sea glass.
The rarest sea glass is orange. Due to the very minimal amount of orange glass produced throughout history, orange sea glass is extremely precious and hard to find. On the sea glass rarity chart, it’s at the top of the list.
We are avid collectors of sea glass and have managed to find just two pieces of this rare orange glass in hundreds of hours of searching.
The first small little sliver was found by my nephew on the first day I invited him and my brother to join me on my favorite beach. How very lucky!
He had no idea how rare it was. But when I asked him if he’d ever seen anything made of orange glass, he realized just how incredible his find was.
We’ve since found a larger piece of orange glass — my husband found it gleaming up at him several months ago.
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I’m still amazed my nephew saw such a tiny shard among hundreds of rocks! His is the one above on the left.
There’s a possibility that this tiny piece was part of a stained glass window in its past life. Or maybe this rare orange sea glass was a little-produced art deco glass vase.
Who knows? But one of the things that draws me to the search for glass is the history of these pieces that are, at minimum, decades old – and some measured in centuries.
What are the odds of finding orange sea glass?
Extremely rare – orange sea glass can only be found in every 10,000 pieces of glass people pick from the beach. If you’re lucky enough to live near a beach with plenty of rocks, it’s always a possibility you’ll find a fiery piece of orange.
Even if just a small sliver or piece. Storms are especially good for washing up special pieces of sea glass from the depths where it may have been hiding for decades.
When you first see it, there’s a moment of hesitation as you think it’s probably plastic and not worth reaching for. Don’t give in to doubt! If I had, the most magical piece of blue I own would still be in the water.
[Besides, if a bright color sits in front of you and it is plastic, you’ve done a good deed and taken it out of the ocean ecosystem – if you throw it away. And I hope you do.]
Orange sea glass typically resembles the bright orange soda you drank from the bottle as a kid. What was it? Orange Crush, I think.
It’s so amazing that on any given seashore, a piece of orange from countless miles away – and a lifetime or more ago – could wash up and present itself at your feet.
Why is orange so rare and where does it come from?
Orange sea glass is rare because all sea glass must come from glass jars, bottles, dishes, or decorative ware that was produced at one time.
The thing is, there’s been a ton of green, brown, and clear glass – not to mention the pale green Coke bottle glass – that’s been made throughout the years.
But orange was never really an in-demand color in home decor, nor a desirable upper-crust or royal color. Therefore, where other hues of glass were prominent and prized, the lowly little orange didn’t appeal to many.
Their loss is our gain. Now the most prized of colors for sea glass collectors and glass jewelry makers, orange finally has its place of honor.
Since this wasn’t an-in demand color for glass or tableware, it’s a rare sighting for beachcombers looking for treasures. You may even mistake it for a piece of plastic or other trash.
I recommend picking up anything that catches your eye when looking for glass treasure. You never know what it might be until you take a closer look.
Orange sea glass origins:
- Stained glass window art
- It’s likely that some shards are pieces of boat reflector lights
- Glass electrical insulator knobs (very few made in orange)
- Viking glass ornamental pieces
- Amberina decorative glass pieces
- Mid-century glass ashtrays, vases, and animal figurines
- Reflector and warning lights for boats
Do a quick search on orange glass and take a look at examples. It’s both fascinating and surprising. There’s not much that was made in orange.
That’s why it’s so hard to find it in sea glass form.
Just because it’s rare, don’t stop looking for it. From what I’ve heard/read (from other collectors) beaches or seasides that are near old industrial areas often have more of these rare colors than others.
The best investment we’ve made (besides water shoes to avoid cutting our feet on the rocks) is this amazing deck of sea glass identification and fact cards. I refer to them all the time, and they’re full of amazing facts about rare sea glass.
Places to find orange sea glass
My husband and I plan to visit the UK eventually, since he’s from Switzerland and we’re across the pond regularly. I’ve heard that the northeast of England is a great place for sea glass treasures.
Seaham Beach is mentioned often since it was the location of a glass factory once upon a time. They used to discard unwanted glass into the nearby sea.
Anywhere there was a glass factory — or an industrial area — near water, you’re likely to find many varying colors of sea glass, including orange.
Besides factories, keep in mind that some orange sea glass is from old warning or brake lights from old cars and boats. So anywhere there were old boats — or cars, technically there could be orange sea glass near those shores as well.
Here’s a quick video with one of my best tips for finding any kind of glass — even those rare pieces of sea glass!
For now, though … we’ll keep searching our own beaches since there’s no shortage of sea glass in San Diego. Anywhere you can find rocks, you’ll find a bit of glass if you’re patient and look hard enough.
Speaking of finding sea glass. We have an extensive article on San Diego sea glass hunting you’ll enjoy.
Happy sea glass hunting! And may you find that huge piece of orange you’re looking for.