What's the Difference Between Glasses and Crystal?

- Jan 03, 2018 -

What's the Difference Between Glasses and Crystal?

During special occasions, it is customary to drink wine, champagne, and other alcoholic beverages to celebrate. It is common to bring out the wine glasses or the crystal and raise a toast to newlyweds, to successful projects, and new beginnings, among others. 


For the average person, distinguishing between glasses and crystal may be difficult at first glance. Many find that they look exactly alike with only a few subtle differences.

Overview of Glass and Crystal

Below is a quick chemical composition lesson as well as the different types of glass and crystal that can be found on the market.


Glass, as a raw material, normally refers to the soda-lime, which makes up over 90 percent of all the glass that is manufactured today. It includes in Soda-Lime Glass,Borosilicate glass and Fused Quartz.


When most people talk about bringing out the "crystal," they are often referring to a type of glass that is made from silica, lead oxide, soda or potash, and other additives. Lead crystal is the type that is most commonly used for wine glasses and other decorative ornaments around the home.

How to Distinguish Between Glasses and Crystal

Aside from the chemical composition, which is not apparent at a glance, there are many ways to identify whether or not drinkware is made from glass or crystal just by observation. 


Compared to glass, fine crystal may be thinner or more decorative because the lead content lowers the working temperature of the glass, making it easier to sculpt. Normally, glass has to be fired to high temperatures with only a short window of time to blow or mold it. 


Glasses, especially those made from soda-lime, are cloudy even when held up against the light. Crystal, on the other hand, is known for its clarity. 


Similar to clarity, the crystal's refractive quality also has a great deal to do with its lead content. Fine crystal, particularly if it has a lead content that ranges from 36 to 70 percent, sparkles in direct sunlight. 


Crystal is typically cut and polished in a precise manner. Additionally, it is also smooth to the touch. In contrast, glass tends to be brittle and sharp.


Another key difference between glass and crystal is the sound that it makes when tapped. Crystal produces a ringing sound like a "ping" when it is clinked. On the flipside, glass makes a low sound like a "thud."


The crystal's lead content also plays a crucial role in its weight. Because lead is a dense metal, crystal is naturally heavier than glass. 

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