CRYSTAL, LEAD GLASS – WHAT IS IT?

CRYSTAL, LEAD GLASS – WHAT IS IT?

The trend of owning crystal dishes began in the times of communism in Poland. Elegant glasses, goblets, vases or ashtrays decorated many interiors, and thus were used to adorn tables or wall units. In recent times, crystal souvenirs from grandparents are back in favour, and the demand for glassware in the glamour style is growing.

Commercially produced crystal glass is already 400 years old! Although lead was added to the glass mass in the ancient times, it was not until the 17th century that the idea of using this material for the production of glassware was born, so that it could be more widely distributed. Heavy crystals became masterpieces of art thanks to their unusual ornamentation and shapes. There were also products with family coats of arms or symbols of the European culture.
The first glassworks which specialised in the production of crystals was established in the 18th century on the initiative of King Augustus III of Poland. This royal manufactory was followed by private initiatives, aiming to invent unusual decorations. Moreover, this type of glass was used not only to make vases, flacons, glasses and decanters, but also chandeliers and mirrors. The material was also used as an intermediate product for jewellery.
The fashion for crystals developed simultaneously throughout Europe. Every wealthy townsman had unusual items in their collection.


Crystal or leaded glass
Crystal glass is known as lead glass. This results from the fact that lead oxides are added to the glass mass. The minimum content is 18%, but in the past there were crystals with even 80% lead oxides! Surprisingly, years ago the list of ingredients for the production of this material also included… arsenic.
Leaded glass has a higher refractive index and higher dispersion. This in turn results in a specific brilliance of the glass and makes it ideal for decorative products. Crystal is also softer than traditional glass, more liable to acid, etching and grinding, which makes it a good material for detailed cuts and decorations.
It should be noted that the addition of lead affects the weight of crystal glass. Crystal tableware is always much heavier than its equivalents made of traditional glass. Crystal with lead is not suitable for washing in dishwashers. We only recommend hand washing with delicate detergents in order to prevent tarnishing of the glass and to keep its shine and perfect transparency as long as possible.

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