The Beauty of Fine
Hand Cut Lead Crystal
Lead crystal when
properly cut has the magnificent ability to disperse light into the
color components of the visible spectrum with almost diamond
brilliance. Place a lovely deep cut lead crystal vase in a sunlit
window and watch the magic! The brilliant colors of
refracted sunlight passing through a fine piece of deep cut lead crystal
are simply captivating!
A Brief History
of Lead Crystal
Although cut glass has been
around for over 2000 years true lead crystal has only been in existence
since the second half of the 17th century. English glassmaker
George Ravenscroft (1618-81) while searching for a way to improve the
luster and clarity of his glassware found that by adding lead oxide to
his molten mixture he could not only improve the clarity (crystal clear)
of the glass but dramatically increase the weight, the index of
refraction and the ability to cut the material without fracturing. The
importance of this discovery lead to a booming cut lead crystal market
in Britain that eventually spread throughout Europe and later to
In the United States by the late
19th century there were over 200 cutting houses producing cut lead
crystal. American demand for lead crystal was at its peak. In
those days a considerable amount of wealth was required to own true cut
lead crystal. The cost of a craftsman’s labor to produce an
intricate piece was prohibitive to the person of average income.
By the dawn of the 20th century
production of cut lead crystal was slowly declining as lower cost
imitation molded and pressed glassware became routinely produced for the
masses. Molded glass cannot compare to real cut leaded crystal.
The lack of, detail, brilliant luster, sharpness and clarity along with
the presence of rough surfaces and mold parting lines in the work are
all too easily detected.
Today the electric powered
cutting wheel is much faster and able to perform much more intricate
cuts in the hands of a master cutter than was its steam driven
predecessor of a century ago. The time and labor requirements to
produce a fine piece of intricate cut crystal are still quite
considerable. It may take hours to cut a small piece and several
days for larger work. It is for this reason that there is no mass
production of these highly detailed products in the United States or
anywhere else for that matter. Master cutters employed by
large cutting houses usually do not produce numerous elaborate pieces
for reasons of economy.
Manufacturing Lead Crystal by the
The traditional method of forming
the crystal blank is done by a highly skilled blower who gathers the
molten mixture at the end of an iron blowpipe and then forms the blank
shape purely by means of his skill or by blowing the “gather” into a
rough mold. After cooling, the blank is then ready to be
sketched, cut, polished and decorated in whatever manner the artisan has
Full lead crystal, which is mouth
blown in the traditional method, may from time to time have a few minor
bubbles contained within the piece. This is generally accepted as
a by-product of the traditional process and does not detract from the
piece. On occasion, small, barely perceivable lines may be
detected within a piece of crystal. These represent slight
variations in the density of the molten crystal, which remain
after the crystal has cooled. These lines are called cords and are
also considered a by-product of the traditional process.
It should be noted
that each piece of true hand cut lead crystal is a unique
product of the individual artisan or artisans who have produced it.
For example within a set of stemware of the same pattern there may be
very slight variations in pattern size and spacing of the elements.
This only serves to embellish the charm and appreciation of such
artisanship and is by no means considered a detriment. Absolute
product consistency is only achieved by fully mechanized production, not
by a craftsperson.
Slight variation within a matched
set of cut crystal is the accepted benchmark for handcrafted
artisanship. It is comforting to note that in this age
of accelerating technology someone is still practicing traditional,
limited production, hand crafted work.
Our Lead Crystal Product
Rest assured, these are not the
factory seconds that you find in outlet stores but premium quality hand
cut crystal from some of the finest artisans in the world.
For generations Slovakia
(formerly the eastern region of Czechoslovakia) has produced much of the
finest cut crystal in the world. All of our Slovakian
crystal comes packaged in beautiful padded and lined presentation boxes,
which makes these heirloom quality creations even more cherished.
We are extremely proud of this entire line of premium quality, fully
leaded, hand cut crystal. Note: Product numbers with an “S”
prefix are from Slovakia.
Our Polish and Russian (Belorus)
selections represents classic Victorian style and very high quality,
fully leaded hand cut crystal. If comparable items existed from a
name brand crystal house they would easily fetch over twice the price.
We invite you to see for yourself what magnificent beauty and true
artistic mastery are all about! Note: Product numbers with
a "P" are from Poland and products with a "B" prefix are from Belorus.
of Lead Crystal
Full lead crystal is much clearer
than common glass and is somewhat “softer” which makes it easier for the
artisan to cut. This “softness” also makes it easier to
unintentionally impart fine scratches onto the surface of crystal.
Crystal should be stored so as to reduce the possibility of contact with
other pieces, which could cause scratching, chipping or other blemishes
Care should be taken when
cleaning your crystal to avoid use of harsh detergents, excessive heat
(both of which may be found in your automatic dishwasher) excessive
cold, rapid temperature changes and abrasives. It is very strongly
recommended to wash your crystal by hand in warm water with a small
amount of detergent, rinse then dry with a soft cloth. Use of a
mechanical dishwasher, with it’s associated heat and harsh detergents
will result in either producing a “cloudy” etched surface to the crystal
or crack the crystal outright.
Full lead crystal should not be
used for long-term storage of consumable liquids (fill your decanter
with only as much brandy as you will use over the holidays). The
FDA advises consumers not to store alcoholic beverages in lead crystal
decanters. The FDA also advises pregnant
women not to routinely drink from lead crystal glasses.