The beauty of crystal glass engraving

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Crystal glass is a high-quality material that, when engraved, makes for a beautiful luxury gift.

Ordinary glass has been used for thousands of years. It was once very expensive and only owned by the wealthy. Nowadays, it is a cheap and common material used for items like drinking glasses, bottles and jars.

It was discovered that metal could be added to glass to change its properties. Lead was the most successful metal as it created glass that produces a ringing sound and offers plenty of durability. It is warm to the touch but most importantly it has a silvery look, enhanced by cutting and engraving.

The history of lead crystal glass

George Ravenscroft is credited as the inventor of lead crystal glass. He owned a glasshouse in London that opened in 1673. Shortly afterwards, he invented what he called “flint glass”, a type of lead crystal. His early efforts created an unwelcome blue tinge and other flaws in the glass, so he experimented by adding more lead until there were no imperfections.

The first crystal glassware was plain, but by the early 1700s, cutting the glass with intricate designs became popular. Many glasshouses flourished in the 18th Century until the government introduced a glass tax. This caused many glasshouses to move to Ireland to escape the tax. Ireland became the centre for lead crystal glass production for a while, but the Irish tax authorities, seeing the large profits the glasshouses were producing, decided to follow the British example and in 1825, introduced their own glass tax. This caused one of the major glasshouses at Waterford to close.

In the 1800s, France and Sweden began to produce crystal glass, and in Austria, Swarovski was founded, which still produces crystal glass today.

How crystal glass is formed

Crystal glass is made from a mixture of silica, red lead and potash. Silica is derived from natural sand produced in inland sandstone deposits. Each factory that produces crystal glass has its own formula – typically roughly 50% silica and 25% each of potash and red lead. Coloured crystal glass can be made by adding additional metals to the glass. Some manufacturers add a small amount of saltpeter, borax and arsenic.

There are different standards of crystal glass, pressed lead, crystal, lead crystal and full lead crystal. These standards are based on the reflective index of the glass and its hardness. Crystal glass can also be made in varying thicknesses.

Engraving glass crystal

Crystal glass engraving can be done by a skilled craftsman, though modern engraving firms use laser engraving or chemical etching machines to engrave text and images.

Crystal glass can be formed into many shapes, tankards, wine glasses, vases and more. Trophies made from engraved crystal glass are popular ways to reward achievements.

Engraving creates unique products that are luxury items, yet affordable. For the same price as a bottle of champagne, you can purchase an engraved champagne glass to drink the bubbly out of. Unlike champagne, engraved glasses can be used time and time again!

Crystal glass engraving creates personalised quality gifts and awards that people love to receive.

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