When searching for drinkware, you’ll often see products that look really similar have noticeable price differences depending on if they are glass or crystal. But what does that mean? Is “crystal” just a snobby word for glass? Well, yes and no. Glass is a general term, and crystal is more of a sub-category. They share a lot of similarities, but their chemical and mineral make-up is what sets them apart from each other.
Glass is composed of sands heated to melting point. Its mineral content is calcium/silica based, and it’s considered an amorphous solid, so its structure is non-porous, because it’s actually kind of a liquid. Confusing, right? These properties are why when you see glass etched with patterns, the lines are usually sharp and angular.
Crystal is composed of other minerals, most commonly, lead or other metal oxides that have similar properties to lead. Crystal is porous and refracts light on three different planes, giving it a brighter, more sparkly look than glass. Its structure also allows it to be melted into thinner and flowier designs than typical glass.
What are the Benefits of Glass?
- Less expensive than crystal
- Dishwasher-safe (because it isn’t porous)
- Doesn’t corrode or absorb chemicals from anything stored inside it
- Stronger than crystal (and can even be made more durable with tempering)
What are the Benefits of Crystal?
- Refracts light into rainbows
- Can be blown into thinner, more delicate designs than glass and remain durable
- Lead-free options are dishwasher-safe (magnesium and zinc)
So….What’s the Right Choice for me?
Choosing between glass and crystal really depends on your preference. Going for an expensive look or hosting a special occasion? Crystal is the way to go. Need something you can use every day that’s not too expensive to replace if it takes a beating? Go with glass. Either way, both are quality and beautiful in any form they take.