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Fine Crystal Glassware: All glassis made from humble materials, sand , lead, lime, soda, potash, and manganese which are all heated together in a huge furnace, with bits of broken glass added to help the melting process.  It is what is done with the molten materials next that effect the finished product’s quality and price.

Pressed Glass: This is often the least expensive glassware, (everyday beverage glas ses) . It is made by pouring or blowing molten glass into a mold.  It is heavier in appearance than molten glass. 

Hand-blown Glass:This is more expensive than machine made because of the extensive workmanship involved.
The master blower gathers just the right amount of molten  onto the end of a blowpipe and blows air into it,  working quickly before the glass cools.  He then  places the partially blown piece into a wooden or steel mold.  The craftsman continues to blow  air into the blowpipe until the finished shape takes form.

The piece is then placed in an annealing oven and allowed to cool at precisely the right temperature to avoid flaws or shattering from rapid changes.  The sensitivity of full lead crystal lead content makes the production of each piece an even more delicate operation.

Today, there are also computerized machines that produce good- quality blown glass.

Crystal: Strictly speaking it no different from glass.  The  term is usually used to refer to all fine glassware.  Lead is added to some glassware, which gives it more weight, increases its resilience and adds brilliant sparkle. 

Full lead crystal contains at least 24% lead oxide.  This is the  finest crystal made.
The cost of fine glassware can be attributed to the purity of the materials and the extensive handwork that goes into each glass.  For example , in fine glassware, the stems are pulled by hand from the bowl and then another piece of molten glass is added for the foot.
When held to the light, fine crystal should be absolutely clear. With no discolorations.  Cuts should be sharp & precise.   Handmade crystal will have slight variations but these are not flaws, just signs of good craftsmanship. 

Seeds or bubbles, the size of a pinpoint when you examine the crystal against a strong light, are formed by gasses when chemicals unite in the fusing or melting of raw materials.  These seeds or bubbles do not affect the quality or the beauty of the glass.
The gold trim is generally 22 or 24 karat gold. When tapped lightly on the bowl, good crystal will reward you with a crisp, bell like tone.

Types of decoration

Cut Glass: The surface is cut into patterns either by hand or with computer programmed machines using a revolving wheel.

Generally there are 2 kinds of crystal hand cuts:
Wedge cut which is the most common.
Flat cut which is a more labor intensive process which requires careful grinding of the crystal.

The cutter's wheel goes over the glass a minimum of 2 times for the rough cut and a 3rd time to polish. 
Flat cuts require an extra cutting step.  thereby making it more expensive.

Following wheel cuts,  crystal is placed in an acid bath as a final polishing step.  This bath transforms the cuttings into clear prismatic brillance. 

If a grey cut is part of the design, an additional cut is executed directly following the acid polishing.

 Engraving and Etching: These are created by drawing on the glass with acids.

A crystal suite consists of  a water goblet/large wine glass,  wine glass and a fluted  champagne glass.  Iced beverage glasses may be substituted for the water goblet/large wine glass.

 Wine ware:
There is a specific glass for every category of wine.  Shapes really do bring out the body and fragrance of the wines.
Chilled white wine is served in a small glass so that the wine does not lose its chill.
Red wine needs volume to bring out its full bouquet and it should be served in larger glasses.  Full bodied reds should have even larger glasses.
Rose′  is best served in a goblet.

Hock Wines for white Rhine wine are taller than regular white wine glasses with a squat bowl.

Brandy glasses have a distinctive short stemmed, chubby  shape so the drinker can warm the brandy in his hand and savor its aroma.

Champagne occupies a very special place as the drink of choice for special occasions.  Once it was used only for a special toast.  But now it is often uses as the wine for the whole evening.  There is a champagne flute which is tall and narrow. There is also the champagne saucer  which is much broader across the top.

 Bar Ware:
Highball/Tumbler:  These are the biggest of the barware glasses.  They come in assorted shapes and sizes  with a capacity that ranges from 10 to 16 ounces.  Use them for  everything from a glass of soda to a tall vodka and tonic.

Double Old Fashioned.  These  are shorter and squatter than the highball with about a 10 to 14 ounce capacity.  These are usually used for on the rocks beverages,

Martini: This glass is stemmed with a flared straight sided bowl which can be used for other cocktails, like Manhattans and Margaritas.

You may wash your crystal by hand, using a mild liquid dishwashing detergent. To prevent chipping and scratching crystal when washing, remove rings and swing the faucet out of the way. 

 If you use the dishwasher, arrange the  pieces securely in the top rack so they do not touch or become dislodged.  Use a mild liquid detergent, as dishwasher detergents, over time, will cause abrasive marks on fine crystal.  Always allow the stemware to cool before removing it from the dishwasher.

Full lead content makes glass sensitive to hot and cold extremes.  Really fine crystal should always be washed by hand.

Never store  crystal stemware upside down. The lip is the most fragile part of the glass and in time will crack and chip from the weight of the bowl and stem.

Always allow air space around each piece of crystal when you store it. Since glass expands in hot temperatures, extra air space eliminates the possibility of the crystal breaking because it has expanded and touched another piece.

To remove hard water mineral spots from crystal, simply apply a small amount of vinegar to the water.  A small, soft brush can be useful to clean crystal that has grooves in the design


Back to Ask US Index

What is crystal?

What is pressed glass?

What is Handblown glass?

What percent of lead is in lead crystal?

What constitutes a flaw in crystal?

What karat is the gold trim?

What is engraved glass?

What is etched glass?

What is
 Cut Glass?

What pieces comprise a 3 piece crystal suite?

What are the different types of wine glasses?

What is a "Hock" wine glass?

What are the different types of liquor glasses?

Are there more than one type of c champagne glass?

How do I care for my crystal?

How can I remove mineral spots from my crystal?

Do you have any information on Swarovski?
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