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By Kristina Pritchett

On a recent morning, Emily Burton crouched down to the sand and pushed aside small rocks on one of her trips to Capistrano Beach. Moving slowly farther north, she suddenly stopped and reached out, standing to full height with a bright piece of green sea glass. Colorful finds are good for her business.

“One time I found a pink piece,” Burton said as she walked down the sand. “That one was so unique so it was probably my favorite.”

At home, the 24-year-old Dana Point resident said she has gallon-sized Ziploc bags of blue, green, brown and white pieces of sea glass, though she’s careful to say she’s not a hoarder. Collecting gems of the seashore has just been a hobby she’s had since she was a little girl, which she’s now trying to turn into something more.

“I grew up collecting sea glass,” Burton said. “I had tons of it, and it came to the point like, ‘OK, I need to do something with this.’”

So one day she went into an arts and crafts store while at college at Cal State Monterey Bay and looked at the jewelry-making supplies. There, she figured she could turn her collections into jewelry.

“I never made jewelry before this in my life,” Burton said. “I’ve never had a class; I just kind of figured it out. I made two necklaces that first day.”

Burton said while she finished her last semester at school, she quit her part-time job and instead held jewelry parties to sell her pieces.

Three years later and she’s returned to Dana Point selling her items on Etsy, and she attends different markets and fairs throughout the area.

“It’s fun to sell to the customers face-to-face,” Burton said. “It’s nice to talk to them and see what their style and likes are.”

On Tuesday, she created a necklace with a green piece of sea glass while kids played on the sand at Capo Beach.

She said it doesn’t take her a long time to create the pieces, but some items do require more work than others.

“The earrings can (take time); no two pieces will be the same, but I like to try and match them as best as I can,” Burton said.

Every item of jewelry she makes has a piece of sea glass that she’s collected. Some have wires wrapped around the glass, which is attached to a chain. Others, like her bracelets, have a hole drilled through the glass with a charm to overlay it.

“My ultimate goal is to make this into a full-time business,” Burton said. “For now it’s a fun side hobby. I love sitting there and creating something with glass. I love the idea of repurposing it.”

Burton graduated with a degree in business and hopes that can help her to expand one day.

She said she typically goes out on the beach once or twice a week and can spend an hour or two scouring the sands.

“I probably look crazy to some people. I have this method and I zigzag across the beach,” Burton said.

Her jewelry prices start around the $15 mark, and Burton said she wants to ensure that her pieces stay affordable.

She said she would like to take a class to learn how to solder the jewelry, but for now she’s focusing on her other jobs and selling the pieces to as many people as she can.

Her pieces can be found on her Instagram, @seagemsbyem, or her Etsy account at

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