How To: Look After Your Crystal Glassware

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Refined. Elegant. Chic. Crystal glassware is designed for life’s finer moments. Whether you’re celebrating a friend’s engagement or just a Friday evening, looking for a gift for the ultimate aesthete or upgrading your entertaining, crystal glass transforms the everyday into the exquisite.

Watching a craftsman mouth-blow glass is a beautiful thing to behold. It’s an art form that marries skill and chance to create finely honed and unique pieces. It produces striking items through a labour-intensive process and is therefore more expensive. However, there are many more wallet-friendly options available on the market.

Machine-blown glassware, like it sounds, is highly automated. This super-efficient process equates to a lower cost whilst still allowing for a range of surface finishes.

From hand-crafted carafes to mouth-blown wine glasses, crystal glassware enhances the experience of your favourite beverage. Like all good things, it responds well to a little TLC. (Don’t we all…) Here’s a little history for you and some guidance on the do’s and don’ts.

Whether you’re celebrating a special event or just the company of friends, champagne cocktails served up in fine crystal feel like the ultimate decadence. Vera Wang’s Wedgwood Duchesse Crystal Glassware collection is infinitely feminine and elegant. Image source: Sex in the City via startribune.com

A snap-shot history of crystal glassware

Crystal glassware was born circa 1674. One George Ravenscroft is held responsible for the good stuff. After dropping out from training for the priesthood (!), old George turned his hand to selling glass.

Unhappy with the crizzling*, cloudy appearance of contemporary glass, George’s company, Raven’s Head** added lead oxide. The result – sheer glassware that refracts more light and lasts longer. (Well played, George!)
*Awesome word                                                                                  **Awesome name

Up the romance with a sip of something decadent. Waterford Lismore Essence Goblet (Set of 2) delivers cut-crystal glass with a dash of old-school elegance. Image source: Casablanca via yaleherald.com

A moneyman rather than an artisan, the true origin of the Raven’s secret recipe is steeped in mystery – perhaps “borrowed” from the makers of cristallo that he observed in Venice or conceived by one of his crafty minions. Either way, we can be thankful – the ultimate in glassware justifies the finest liquor. 😉

Crystal glassware is still thought superior today with big name fashion designers like Vera Wang and Monique Lhuillier producing collections alongside industry stalwarts Waterford Crystal, IVV, Krosno and Stolzle.

Sometimes it is purely medicinal. Crystal pairs well with dark chocolate. Stolzle Experience Wine Glass (Set of 6) available online at Zanui. Image source: Bridget Jones Diary via independent.co.uk

Care instructions

It’s recommended that you handwash mouth-blown glassware. So if you don’t do dishes – this is not for you. Machine-blown pieces are typically thicker, dishwasher-friendly and more durable, making them ideal for cafés, catering and hardy family environments.

Preserving your glassware for tomorrow is less difficult than you’d expect.

Wedding speeches can be painfully funny – not always for the right reasons. Wash down the hard stuff with the Royal Doulton Highclere Tumbler (Set of 4), available online at Zanui. Image source: Steve Buscemi in The Wedding Singer via theplungeunofficial.tumblr.com

Do:

  • Wash your crystal before use.
  • Use warm soapy water and a soft cloth. Rinse with clear warm water.
  • Hold wine glasses/champagne flutes by the bowl not the stem.
  • Avoid twisting stems during washing and drying.
  • Dry completely using a soft cloth.

From left: Vera Wang Wedgwood Sequin Champagne Saucer (Set of 2) and the Riedel Sommeliers Vintage Port Glass available online at Zanui. Image source: The Wedding Crashers via tbs.com

Don’t:

  • Stack glasses inside one another.
  • Store right side down – this damages the rims.
  • Use crystal pieces in microwave or conventional oven or in a freezer.
  • Expose your crystal to extreme temperature changes, e.g. hot oven or icy water.

Royal Doulton Seasons Decanter Tumbler Set. Image source: via silverscreensuppers.com

For stains:

  • Changing the contents of your carafes and decanters regularly will prevent staining.
  • To remove stains, use vinegar on a soft cloth. Or soak item in a 50/50 vinegar/water solution.
  • A mild abrasive such as rice or crushed eggshells can be used inside containers.

For dishwasher-safe items:

  • Handle with care.
  • Stack your pieces well.
  • Use a low temperature washing cycle or a crystal and glassware specific setting where available.
  • Please note: regular dishwasher use can reduce shine.
  • Handwash heavy items.

“I must get out of these wet clothes and into a dry martini.” Mae West in Every Day’s a Holiday (1937 film) Waterford Clarendon Martini Glass (Set of 2). Image source: Bridesmaids via trespassmag.com

 

Hero image: Ellen von Unwerth’s photo of Christy Turlington inspired by the 1960 movie Breathless via thebaltimorechop.com

Kay is a feature, blog and copywriter. She collects empty jam jars, academic degrees and tawdry dreams in the hopes of turning them into something useful someday. Her work has been published in ACP magazines, ABC fiction, Overland, Brittle Star, Seizure, trade publications and online forums. Her creative writing has won several awards.