Only glass products containing at least 24% of lead oxide may be referred to as "lead crystal".
Full lead crystal is a heavy glass with increased sparkle and clarity. Adding lead also produces a softer glass that is easier to cut.
Ordinary glass has been made for thousands of years and was a product of most ancient cultures. The ancients also began using crystal in its native form of rock crystal for beads, figurines, and dishes. In attempts to imitate nature, man began making glass that was termed crystal by adding metals to change the character of the glass, and lead was found to be the most successful of these additives. After the benefits of lead addition were discovered in England in 1646, cutting faceted designs into the surface of glass vessels became popular.
Lead crystal produces a product with a ringing sound (without the tin quality of ordinary glass), it is strong and durable, and it has a curious warmth to the touch. Best of all, lead crystal has a brilliant, silvery appearance that is enhanced by cutting.
The life of lead crystal products begins with meticulous and precise planning. After a piece is designed it is blown from molten glass by a master glass blower into a wooden form. That is where it takes its desired shape. The glass is then cooled continuously for 4 hours. After cooling comes a quality control inspection after which products of adequate quality continue to the etching salon, where the appropriate design is hand-etched onto each piece by etching artists.
The manufacturing process of genuine lead crystal involves plenty of work, skill and attention to detail. The added value is reflected in the price and is the guarantee of high quality.
With the following guidelines, we would like to help you determine the quality of your crystalware.
Lead crystal vs. cut glass
Cut glass and lead crystal are both made from glass, but lead crystal contains an extra material that enhances the brilliance of the glass. It helps to know how to tell the difference because lead glass is usually of higher value than cut glass, and requires a bit more attention when cleaning. Lead crystal stemware and other pieces have distinctive characteristics which you can test by holding in your hand.
Lifting an item may shed light on whether your stemware or other piece is made from lead crystal or cut glass. Lead crystal is usually heavier than glass.
Any item sold as full lead crystal must contain at least 24 percent lead oxide. Comparing an object of the same size, the lead crystal object will feel heavier than its cut glass counterpart due to the weight of the added lead oxide.
If you don't have two similar pieces for weight comparison, you can use your ears to determine whether you have cut glass or lead crystal.
Lift the item up and place it close to your ear. Make certain first that there are no discernible cracks or imperfections. Avoid doing this test on pieces with either, or otherwise use care and do this test far away from the damaged section of the glassware.
Lightly tap towards the base of the object. Lead crystal will produce a sustained melodic "ping" but cut glass will not.
Color and texture
Closely examine the piece in bright light. Examine for transparency of object. Absence of color is indicative of crystal, while glass will have some light hints of green or yellow. The light refraction in crystal can produce a rainbow effect.
Cut clarity and smoothness is also an indication of crystal, as glass will have some roughness.
Lead crystal is often thinner than glass, as the material can be manipulated during manufacturing to create more delicate shapes without breaking.
Lead crystal quality control
Find more genuine lead crystal pieces in the webshop.