“But glass and crystal look exactly the same. What is the difference? Why would I pay more for crystal when I can just buy the glass version?”
These are very good questions. Most people don’t know the difference between glass and crystal, other than one feels heavier and can be slightly more expensive.
The definition is actually clear glass. However, when people refer to “crystal” they generally mean either lead crystal or a high quality glass product. Lead Crystal is heavier than glass because it contains lead. In order for the product to be labelled as lead crystal and not glass, the piece must be composed of at least 24% lead oxide by UK standards*, giving the product weight, a more definitive look and most importantly, it actually makes the product softer thus enabling cutting and polishing. That is why most lead crystal is also known as cut crystal. When you see some variety of cutting on a piece of crystal it is, in all likelihood, 24% lead crystal. Lead crystal is pretty safe to use for serving food products, however, storing food or liquor in a lead crystal decanter is not recommended as the lead can leach over a period of time. Lead free crystal on the other hand is completely food and liquor safe. Lead free crystal is a high quality glass attained by using clean high quality sand and minerals in its production by skilled artisans. Additionally, lead free crystal is generally not cut because it is more brittle then lead crystal and tends to chip when cutting is attempted. It is also much more difficult to polish the cuttings then it is on lead crystal.
Frequently lead free crystal is more expensive then lead crystal because defects in the glass cannot be hidden by cutting. Hence the quality of the blowing must be even higher then that of cut lead crystal
For the more visually inclined people, let’s say you placed a glass pitcher next to a crystal pitcher. The crystal pitcher looks like the glass pitcher, but with the contrast heightened around the edges. Another way to tell the difference, is the color of the edges. Your typical piece of lower quality glass will have a green tint to the edges, whereas crystal has more of a pale blue tint or is transparent.
All glass is crystal without the lead oxide. However some distributors consider all crystal to be lead-infused glass. It’s all about perspective- is the glass half empty or full? Always check the lead content and you cannot go wrong.
You pick up with glass, walk around with the glass, set it down, pick it up, set it down a bit harder this time because you just finished the contents of the glass, and pick it back up. You realize you are out of wine and refill the glass, bumping it with the bottle.
Rinse, lather, repeat.
Later on or the next morning, you hand-wash the glasses and they sometimes bump into whatever else is in the sink or sink-adjacent. Once they are dried, you put them back in their proper resting place and they bump into each other again as you set them up in a decorative manner. You set them up in a decorative manner because these glasses aren’t just a vessel in which to efficiently transport wine into your body, they are BADASH glasses, constituting them as an art piece as well.
Lead-free crystal (glass) is the way to go if you are shopping for something that is not extraordinary. If you hate doing dishes and require your glassware be dishwasher safe- by all means choose glass.
If you want glassware that is durable and will make a statement and capture the light and attention of all who gaze upon it, choose crystal. Crystal glassware can be passed down for generations and used for any occasion. Badash Crystal has a wide selection of diverse glassware that qualifies as functional and decoration. To learn more about Crystal and all you can create with it, visit Badash.com, and follow Badash Crystal on Instagram for their latest and greatest pieces (@badashcrystal).
*United States crystal standards are less regulated. Always check the lead percentage before you buy so you know you are getting a quality crystal piece.