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Chandeliers: Crystal vs. Cut Glass



chandeliers,crystal chandeliers,crystal lighting

The differences between glass and crystal are a common enough topic online, but the question of whether you want to spend the extra money for a crystal chandelier when you could buy one with cut glass is another matter.

After all, who’s gonna know? It’s waaaaaay up there. Nobody can get close enough to really get a good look at it. Chandeliers dazzle at a distance! So, why spend the loot on crystal when a cut glass chandelier will probably pass as legit?

Reason #1: Clarity

The best crystal is very clear, which increases refraction (see below) and also showcases the beauty of the object it accents, whether it’s a chandelier, jewelry or the liquid inside a piece of stemware.

Taken individually and at a distance, it may be very difficult to tell the difference between a single piece of crystal and a piece of well-cut glass. But, when there are dozens (or even hundreds) of pieces arranged together in a chandelier the difference is more readily apparent.

Reason #2: Refraction vs. Reflection  

Quality crystal with high lead content refracts light in a way that creates an abundance of color. If the crystal is very good, its prismatic quality will create dazzling sparkle when light shines onto it from an external source or through it from the fixture nested inside.

Glass, on the hand, has less refractive quality and instead reflects light. This results in a less sparkly chandelier.

But … glass is so much less expensive!

And, that’s not the only thing. There are many types of crystal and many types of glass, and none of it is actual quartz crystal rock, which is too expensive for most people to afford in the profusion needed to assemble an entire chandelier.

All crystal is glass, but not all glass is crystal. Even so, high-polished glass can come close to looking like crystal if it is cut well, and at the end of the day we really are just talking about glass.

Comparing Glass and Crystal

Whether it’s glass or crystal, you should always know how to tell difference so you can confirm what you’re buying. So, to compare glass and crystal, you should look at:

1. Refractive Quality: Crystal creates a prism (rainbow) effect when light shines through it.
2. Weight: Crystal is heavier than glass.
3. Sound: Tapping on crystal should produce a ringing sound.
4. Clarity: Although it’s arguably the most difficult test, you can sometimes tell crystal from glass by its superior clarity.

We hope these tips help you the next time you face a choice between crystal and glass.

This crystal chandelier from James R. Moder comes in seven different options for crystal trim including Swarovski Strass, widely considered to be one of the finest kinds of crystal.

Schonbek offers four crystal color options in its "Rhiannon" chandelier, all of which are touted as absolutely flawless in their optic clarity and faceting.

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