Glass has been admired by cultures for thousands of years and some of the earliest examples come from 3500 B.C.E. Now, we love anything old, antique, vintage, call it what you will – if it is dusty and has a story, we are in love.
The Egyptions are credited with some of the earliest examples of glassware. They invented the blowpipe and that was quickly adopted by the Romans who used it to create glass that was both utilitarian and decorative. Glass was viewed as an inexpensive option compared to other competitive pottery channels. Clear glass was discovered around 100 C.E. leading to a use of glass for architectural purposes – our favorite use yet!
Glassware translated to Venice, Italy in the 13th century. Murano was born and became the choice for artists to express their techniques, designs and materials that are still used and admired today. You probably have pieces of Murano in your home that were purchased without you giving it much thought – they are regular highlights at your local Homesense. And as they should be, it is a wonderful piece of craftsmanship that elevates your homes interior.
By 1600, French and German production of glass and crystal was well underway. And this perhaps is our favorite kind of crystal! The English soon followed adding lead oxide, creating what we recognize as traditional crystal with its key character traits of sparkle, weight and ring..just to name a few of our favorite things!
Now, we are such a believer that you should buy what you love. Regardless, of if it is glass or crystal but we often get asked how do you know the difference? And we agree.. it can be tricky! So we've got you covered. Here are a few pointers on how to tell the difference..
Hold up a glass to the light. If the glass acts as a prism and you see a rainbow you are holding crystal. If not, it is just plain glass.
When struck, crystal produces a musical ring. Glass does not.
If you wet your finger and run it around the rim of a crystal glass it will also produce a musical tone.
Crystal can be worked thinner than glass, so if the rim of a piece is exceptionally thin it's probably crystal.
If you compare two glasses of the same size, the crystal glass will be heavier.
Glass typically has sharp cuts, while crystal will have clean, rounded cuts.
We love to enjoy all of the pieces that we surround ourselves with. And its important for us to note, that unlike plain glass, crystal contains lead. When lead is added to glass it gives the glass more weight, increases its resilience, and adds a brilliant sparkle. The addition of lead oxide to glass also makes it easier for blowers to manipulate without reheating and makes the material better suited for molds, leading to more dynamic designs. Full lead crystal can only be labeled as such if it contains at least 24 percent lead oxide. So read your labels carefully, those checks and balances aren't just for the grocery store anymore!
Due to concern that the lead in crystal could cause health problems, many manufactures are now promoting non-lead crystal. Both types of crystal are made with sand, soda ash, and limestone with barium oxide in place of lead.
Both lead and barium give the glass an extra brilliance and clarity not found in plain glass. Though it can look similar, lead crystal is the only true crystal while non-lead crystal is a brilliant form of glass. So there you have it, you can obtain the beauty in your space while keeping it healthy for your loved ones! We are fans of all of that.
The most important takeaway here is that find pieces you adore and surround yourself with them. Whether they are from a luxury retailer or a small antique store from around the corner - if they mean something to you, if they make you feel something, get them! Trust us, you won't regret it.