Choosing the right piece for crystal glass engraving

Choosing the right piece for crystal glass engraving

Choosing a piece for crystal glass engraving can be a little daunting with so many options available. Remember, too, that there are several different types of glass, which can be categorised by composition, shape and use.

Here we examine the main points regarding the types of glass available and their different functions:

Soda lime glass

Called soda lime glass because of some of the chemicals used in the composition of the glass, this type of glass is the most common. Used mainly for windows, tabletops, and drinkware, it can come in most colours but it is usually clear.

Soda lime glass can also be found in three-dimensional items such as bowls and vases. Available in a very wide selection of thicknesses, shapes and sizes, it is suitable for corporate gifts, high-end awards and recognition pieces.

The versatility of the glass allows any shape to be cut from huge sheets of thick plate glass, with the edges then ground smooth and polished to give plenty of sparkle. The flat surface of the glass is ideal for engraving logos and wording, all the time giving the look of a much more expensive item than it really is.

Lead crystal

Characterised by its lead oxide content, lead crystal has been used for some of the same three-dimensional purposes as soda lime glass, namely wine glasses and decanters, vases and bowls.

One of the main characteristics is that lead crystal is relatively soft, so it lends itself very well to being cut, engraved, ground and polished. There is a high degree of brilliance and clarity with crystal glass engraving, and the light refraction shows up colours like no other.

As the glass is so soft, special care must be taken to avoid scratching the glass, washing and cleaning must be done by hand, and storage should be ample and not allow the pieces to rub together, as rims can easily get damaged or chipped.

Optical crystal

As the name suggests, optical crystal was mainly used for the optical industry, in instruments such as telescopes, as it also has a very high level of clarity.

There is no lead in this type of glass; instead, other metals, such as barium, are used. The level of clarity is still very high using these substitutes. One advantage is that the glass is extremely hard, as opposed to the softness of lead crystal. Though not used for plate glass or three-dimensional items, optical glass can be used quite successfully for awards and trophies.

Thick columns of glass in hexagonal, square and rectangular shapes – especially when fixed to a wood, stone, metal or glass base – can make very interesting awards. This is accentuated when a design has been engraved into the top of a column, or it has been ground and polished. Thick columns are not possible from soda lime glass or lead crystal, so optical crystal is perfect. The finished product can look very desirable and expensive, though not necessarily with the price tag of lead crystal.

As we can see, there are several choices available that would be ideal for crystal glass engraving, and each has its merits. The versatility of glass makes it the perfect material for high-end gifts and awards.

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