"The waves of the sea"
When I did some google-checking before answering, I did see vågorna av havet being used. Can av not be used in the material sense here?
In the English phrase the waves of the sea, "of" can indicate two different senses: "part of" (piece) or "made of" (substance). If I said I listened to the waves of the sea and not I listened to the sea's waves, I'm choosing to be poetic, and doing so implies the substantive meaning of "of". Likewise with the smoke of the fire drifted up my nose versus the fire's smoke drifted up my nose.
No, those are bad translations/too strong influence from English.
If you were to use av with the 'material sense', you should have the indefinite form. vågor av ljus 'waves of light' works for instance.
PS if you just take a quick look at the first hits even in the preview you should see some very serious language errors. "Man Anseendet Vid Vågorna", "Hög kvalitets Stock Foton", "Stor fet fläcken tvättmedel" – sites like that are really polluting the internet :(
I don't really follow that argument, to be honest. You're saying that since English has two ways of forming the possessive, and Swedish only has one, Swedish should conform to the English form it doesn't have?
If you were asked to go from "the waves of the sea" to a direct possessive in English, you would say "the sea's waves", not "the waves of the sea". It's the same if you're asked to go from "the waves of the sea" to Swedish.