Why Seaham sea glass is 'hugely' popular among American residents as thousands of orders are shipped to US
Seaham sea glass collectors say the North East glass has proved ‘hugely’ popular in the US.
Paula Newman, who owns Seaham based business, Peblsrock Sea Glass says the North East glass is very popular among Americans with some making trips to Seaham especially to collect their own glass over the years
Ms Newman says 90% of her glass orders were shipped to the USA up to a few years ago.
The glass has been found on beaches along the coastline in varying quantities for decades.
Smooth coloured pebbles of glass are commonplace on Seaham’s beaches due to the glass factories which operated in the area in the Edwardian and Victorian times.
There were two old glass factories, one in Seaham and another in Sunderland, and at the factories peak 20,000 hand-blown bottles were produced in the area every day, in different colours and designs.
The bottleworks would then dump large amounts of waste glass straight into the North Sea, and over time they become shaped into pebbles by the sea before washing ashore.
Paula said: “It’s been argued for a long time about where people believe the glass came from, some say it landed on Seaham beach from the Seaham factory who made glass bottles and others believe it was a combination of Seaham and the Hartlewood factory in Sunderland who made vases.”
Ms Newman, who has been collecting glass for the last 11 years, said the glass is at least one hundred-years-old as the Seaham factory has been producing glass bottles from 1858 until 1921, and she believes the age of glass is part of its appeal to Americans.
She said: "I have a theory about why Americans love sea glass and I wonder if it’s because the country is still relatively new in comparison to other countries and because this glass is at least 100-years-old that’s why they love it.”
The business owner, who sells sea glass jewellery along with pocket guides and collectable items says that glass collecting the Seaham glass collecting community is welcoming and people have travelled from the States to visit the coastline.
She said: “It’s very much so a community thing, we now have lots of American friends who I’ve met through collecting glass and it’s fantastic.”
Facebook groups have been set up for people to auction off their beach finds with the bidding done in US dollars due to the numbers of American buyers.
Similarly pieces are sold in eBay and Esty, and creatives make artwork and jewellery from the finds to sell.
Gavin Hardy, owner of Seaham Waves Studio also collects his own sea glass to make jewellery which is sold in his shop in Seaham.
He said: “We have American visitors over here buying sea rock as well as online, it’s really popular in the US and I think it’s because sea glass is so unique.
"Our online sales have kept the shop going through lockdown so I’m hoping when restrictions are lifted we will soon see our American visitors once again!”