Collecting China crystal decoration glassware

In the world of collectibles, china crystal decoration glassware makes an interesting pursuit. The glassware is available in a variety of patterns and styles of decoration and reflects the history of manufacturing techniques. Collectible china crystal decoration glassware can be hand blown and crafted using techniques that are centuries old or it can be partly mass-manufactured or decorated. The styles also tell the story of taste and fashion through the ages from the fine elegance of the past to the practicality and casual lifestyles of the present.

Crystal Ware

The difference between glassware and crystal is the lead content. Glass is made of sodium and potassium while crystal is composed of sodium, silicone and lead. The lead content makes the crystal soft enough to cut and etch, changes the light diffraction and makes the crystal heavier. Whether referring to beverage serving pieces, decorative pieces such as vases, or figures, a piece is described as “full lead crystal” if it contains at least 30% lead. If it contains 24% to 29% lead, it can be called “lead crystal.” Crystal glass or crystalline contains less than 24% lead.

One type of collectible china crystal decoration glassware is the elegant American glassware. This somewhat inaccurate name is given to handmade crystal glasses made by several American companies from the 1920’s to the 1980’s. Although easy to find during its height of popularity, this type of china crystal decoration glassware is not the common glassware also available during those years. Elegant glassware includes plain patterns, etched or cut patterns. Although colored patterns are rarer, the colors used range from cobalt and ruby to pale yellow and fuchsia.

They can also be trimmed with gold or platinum. The patterns of elegant glassware reflect the tastes of the decades in which they were popular. In the 1920’s and 1930’s, brides would choose a crystal pattern along with their patterns for china and silver. Manufacturers of elegant glassware began to give romantic names to their crystal patterns during this time. This type of china crystal decoration glassware reflects the trend toward elegant dining of the times.

It was not unusual for a household to have kitchen servants which made several courses the norm – each course having its own china, silver and crystal style. The trend toward more casual dining along with the inexpensive crystal that flooded the market following World War II drove most of the elegant glassware manufacturers out of business. The beauty, variety and the care taken in keeping this type of china crystal decoration glassware make elegant glassware very collectible.

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