The techniques of crystal glass engraving

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Crystal glass looks beautiful. When personalised with an engraved message, it becomes a very special gift indeed.

Glass engraving is a form of art that involves engraving text or images onto the surface of the glass. The engraved design can be carried out using several techniques.

There are businesses that engrave many crystal glass items each day, and there are individual engraving artists that produce one-off designs that belong to the Guild of Glass Engravers. The guild’s London headquarters has a gallery of members’ works, which can also be seen online.

Abrasive engraving

Abrasive wheels and drills can be used by a skilled operator to create stunning images. Traditional engraving wheels are made from copper. A mixture of fine emery powder and linseed oil is used as an abrasive substance.

Stipple or drypoint engraving is done with small diamond tipped burrs that create scratches and small dots. A skilled artist uses these to create images with fine details and clarity.


In this technique, a sandblasting gun is used to spray sand at high velocity onto a glass that has been masked to form a design stencil. Many high-production glass engravers use sandblasting as a quick way to engrave glass crystal.

Laser etching

Another quick way of engraving crystal glass is a laser beam machine. This creates a beautiful frost effect. A crystal glass object such as a drinking glass is placed on a rotary attachment. As the glass rotates, laser beams etch a fine pattern into the glass surface. Alternatively, the laser machine can use flat glass which does not need to be rotated.

The designs are made on a computer using vector graphic software. The image file is then sent to the laser machine. The machine has a print driver where various settings for glass shapes and types can be set up. The driver controls the path of the laser beam to create the engraved design.

How to tell if glass is crystal

Crystal glass has lead oxide instead of the calcium used in typical glasses. This increases its refractive index, which gives it its brilliant look. There are various grades of crystal glass depending on the level of lead oxide used.

If you hold a glass up to the light and you see a rainbow prism, then it will be crystal glass. If the glass is tapped and it has a musical ring, it will be crystal.

Crystal glass can be made very thin and yet still remain strong.

Crystal engraved gifts

Crystal glass engraving is suitable for a variety of items. Engraved crystal glasses are favourite gifts. Engraved crystal trophies and awards are given by businesses and sports bodies to reward achievements. Engraved crystal glass paperweights are beautiful objects for displaying in the home or on office desks.

Engraved crystal glass awards are a great way to express gratitude to someone who has helped you. It can also be a humorous gift for the “world’s wildest man” or “the daughter with the best singing voice”.

Crystal glass engraving creates beautiful gifts that are treasured forever.

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