diamond

Crystal adds a touch of class to any home. Here’s how to identify good crystal and ensure you make the right choice.

The world’s best crystal brands are now available in India. This was not the case just a few years ago when buying crystal was virtually impossible. Today, with the import of crystal many well-known foreign brands are easily available at outlets all over the country: Lalique, Hoya, Swarovski, Waterford, Rosenthal, Baccarat, Tiffany & Co.

Add to this the elite Indian brands that are joining the club and one can safely say crystal is here to stay.

What is crystal, if not another piece of glass? Crystal is glass, with the critically important element, lead monoxide added. There! That’s the secret of this sparkling glass. The addition of lead makes glass more refractive and brilliant. And yes, before we forget, lead crystal comes in various shapes and intricate designs because it is easier to cut or engrave as it is relatively soft. In Europe, this variety of glass must have 1 30% lead content while in the United States 24% will allow for classification as full lead crystal.

The amount of lead content gives crystal its greatest depth and beauty, without the yellow cast which can occur over time if the glass contains more than 30% lead oxide. While crystal has been made for hundreds of years, the technological advances, particularly in melting, have it made more beautiful than before.

Now that you know the difference between glass and crystal, do ask the necessary questions about lead content to come home with the best. Of course, renowned brands are the safest options.

What gives crystal its beauty besides just the lead content? Design material, form and finish.

Design: This is the prerogative of the designers employed by the company whose product you chose to buy. Most of these designers have spent decades developing their skill.

Material: high lead content, melting techniques, and the lowest, percentage of iron combine to produce a material free of any discoloration, seeds (tiny bubbles) or striations (chords) which can take away from the brilliance and clarity. Superior crystal is recognised as unique in the industry because of its purity, reflective brilliance and unsurpassed clarity.

Form: Many techniques, often unique in combination, are used to create crystal pieces. Some pieces are totally handmade from the initial mouth blowing through to the cutting and polishing. Other involve a combination of techniques such as casting, blowing and diamond-wheel cutting. Sometimes, a single piece can be made using several techniques and technologies.

Finish: To many experts, the most critical process in creating beautiful crystal objects is the polishing. Manual polishing where the crisp definition of liens and a mirror finish give the object a wonderful look is one of the techniques used. An acid finish is a common way of smoothening rough edges. If however, not done carefully, it can destroy the sharpness of edge and form.

Today crystal comes in several colours, shapes and forms and looks just as brilliant as it ever did. Placement is important to bring out this brilliance. An interior designer will show you how to place your crystal so that it gets the correct exposure to light. Halogen lamps will also dramatise its brilliance.

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