I love coming home with something special from my travels. So when Zee and I took a trip to Prince Edward Island, Canada I couldn’t resist checking out the local stores for unique jewelry styles native to PEI, like sea glass jewelry.
When you’re visiting a new place it’s best to experience the culture, the food and get a chance to mingle with the locals. Which is why Victoria by the Sea was one of my favourite places on the island. The town was picturesque in every aspect; from its brightly coloured houses and shops to its sparkling coastline and greenery all around. After a morning of kayaking, we checked out the local shops for lunch and some souvenirs. The town’s people and places reminded me of Stars Hollow (with a beach).
I loved the one-of-a-kind appeal of all the shops, especially Moe’s shop called Bittersweet Rose. It carries a variety of jewellery, household items and gifts; of which, sea glass stood out the most to me.
Sea Glass Jewelry
Sea glass formation is a two-part process. Glass shards from broken bottles and jars tumble in the ocean water against rocks and gravel to form smooth edges that start to resemble gems. This process takes anywhere from 40 to 100 years! As the glass hits different surfaces in the water it becomes etched with different designs. The second part of the process is when the shiny surface of the glass is stripped due to a process of hydration (salt water leaching out lime and soda in the glass) to give the glass piece a frosty appearance.
You also have to remember that a sea glass’s journey is a long one. The glass used for gems originates from old rum bottles thrown overboard, Vaseline bottles (when Vaseline used to come in glass containers) and soft drink bottles to name a few. Of this cobalt blue, orange and lavender are more rare colours versus white, green and brown which are more commonly found.
Sea glass is found along the white sand beaches of PEI which is along the northern and eastern coastline. We noticed a lot of people sifting through the tides to find a piece of sea glass which given the number of shops selling sea glass jewelry should have been very easy. However, after spending almost an hour looking for some along the Singing Sands beach we found a piece of orangey-brown glass – still pretty much intact.
Luckily I was able to pick up some beautifully delicate earrings containing cobalt blue sea glass from Red Island Sea Glass. Every time I wear them I’m complimented. I love the uniqueness but at the same time the simplicity of the design and the multiple ways to wear them.
Since sea glass is native to the white sand beaches of PEI, Wampum jewellery is native to warmer water which can be found along the red sand beaches (southern part) of the island. Originally made by the Wampanoag Indians in what is now known as New England, this unique purple jewellery is crafted from Quahog shells. The darker the purple colour in the shell, the more valuable the beads. In fact, these beads were once used as currency to pay for Harvard tuition! I found it really interesting that the colour wasn’t painted on the beads but was actually part of the shell’s colouring.
Some other interesting jewellery I found on the island was this series of necklaces. They are crafted by encompassing shells in a sand mould. The different colours of the sand come from different beaches on the island. I was surprised to see such a diverse range of sand colours on such a small island.
I love discovering new handmade jewelry shops whether at home or on vacation. So if you’re planning to visit PEI, make sure you stop in Victoria to take in the sights and chat with the welcoming locals.