Halifax: Sea Glass Designs cries mermaid’s tears

The same part of me that aches over the loopy inscriptions found at the front of leather-bound books, or a forgotten button tucked into the corner of a vintage clutch, can’t help but lust for jewellery that comes dripping with a history. Designer Rita Laidlaw’s pieces (seaglassdesigns.etsy.com), made from fragments of glass, china and pottery washed up on Nova Scotia’s shores, come with two.

First, the designer’s story: since her childhood in Cape Breton, Laidlaw has been combing nearby beaches for sea glass—or mermaid’s tears—and dragging home these ocean-softened bits of colour. In the mid ’00s, a couple of silversmithing courses at Halifax’s NSCAD turned the collector into the designer of the stunning Sea Glass Designs, available at Love, Me Boutique (1539 Birmingham St., 902-444-3668, lovemeboutique.ca), the Museum of Natural History (1747 Summer St., 902-424-7353), local craft fairs and online at Etsy.com.

And now for the romantic bits: the jewellery’s second story is found in a former life, a tale tied to each piece of sea glass that’s left up to the wearer’s imagination. The pink flowery piece that hangs from your neck could be a chip of wedding china, or your teardrop earrings a slice of the blue landscape print of someone’s cherished cup.

“It’s a little piece of history,” says Laidlaw, currently living in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. “It’s interesting to think how it ended up in the ocean, and who loved it before, and it’s neat it made its journey back out again.”

If these distant musings, and the pieces’ obvious beauty, weren’t already enough, Laidlaw gave me another reason to add a Sea Glass Design to my quotidian wears: she has found a few pieces with “King’s College”—my alma mater—etched on in blue.

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