1. What are crystal and glass?
Crystal and glass are popular materials that people have utilized for thousands of years. The origin of crystal dates back to ancient times, where it was used in the form of gems in jewelry and ornaments across many cultures.
Contrary to what the name implies, crystal glass does not contain a crystalline structure.
The name originates from the Italian “Cristallo”. Crystal is a naturally occurring mineral, composed of atoms arranged in a repeating crystal pattern, while glass is a man-made material made from molten silica and other ingredients.
It contains fortifying minerals such as lead oxide, potassium carbonate, or barium oxide, making the material more durable. The added strength allows crystals to be molded into thin and delicate shapes.
Typically, crystal is harder, heavier, and more expensive than glass. Due to its transparency and aesthetic appeal, it is commonly used in jewelry and ornaments.
Glass is a passive natural material, made from abundant and sustainable natural resources like sand, soda ash, and limestone. These substances are then combined with recycled glass and heated in a furnace to a liquid state, which can be molded into the desired shape.
Other minerals like silica and barium can be added to control color, durability, and thickness, creating different types like crystal.
2. Differences Between Glass and Crystal
Both glass and crystal are made by heating in a furnace until they melt. However, these two materials do indeed have several differences, from their chemical composition and weight to the way they refract light and reflect sound.
We explore these differences below to clarify why crystal is more expensive.
Glass: The appearance of glass is usually slightly foggy and often displays tints depending on its composition. If made with iron, it can turn green; if made with sodium calcium, it turns blue.
Crystal: Crystal has an incredible transparency, making it an ideal choice for jewelry decoration.
Glass: Glass is lighter in weight compared to crystals of the same design.
Crystal: Due to the presence of lead or other metals in crystal, it tends to be heavier than standard glass of the same design.
Glass: Due to the presence of sodium calcium in its chemical composition, glass has a higher working temperature, hardens faster when heated, and has thicker edges. This material is more brittle than crystal, making it more prone to shattering.
Crystal: With the presence of lead carbonate and potassium carbonate in its composition, the extra chemicals also help the material maintain strength, making it tougher and more resilient than glass.
Glass: Glass has little metal content, meaning that light passes through it like window glass without refracting. It appears whiter than crystal and lacks the brightness of crystal.
Crystal: With the presence of lead and metals in crystal, the material can refract the light passing through it to the correct location. Light radiates in a rainbow color from the crystal, making this material an ideal choice for jewelry.
3.Distinguishing Between Glass and Crystal
You can differentiate between crystal and glass by examining the weight, luster, color, color range, clarity, texture, inclusions, and temperature of the object.
The simplest way to differentiate between crystal and glass is through sound. Glass emits a dull sound, while crystal emits a resonant sound.
I will tell you more about these methods to easily identify genuine crystals.
Color: Crystals tend to have a higher transparency than glass and may appear more vibrant or colorful. The presence of lead in the crystal leads to a higher refractive index, resulting in greater sparkle and a rainbow-like hue. Examples of colored crystals include amethyst, citrine, elongated stone, and turquoise.
Weight: Crystal is heavier than glass because it contains lead oxide, which adds extra weight. Examples of heavy crystals include rose quartz, smoky quartz, and hematite.
Hardness: The Mohs scale rating of a crystal is much higher than that of glass due to its composition being harder from lead oxide. The hardness of glass is usually around 5 to 5.5, while that of crystal is typically 7 to 7.5 or higher. Examples of highly durable crystals include aquamarine and garnet.
Clarity: Crystal is usually more transparent than glass because it has a higher refractive index, causing light to bend more within it than regular glass. Many gemstones, such as emeralds and sapphires, are transparent when cut into polished pieces, adding a transparency and shine that other gemstones or glass (whether man-made or natural) do not have.
Texture: The similarities in texture between crystal and glass are that both are hard and brittle. Examples of crystals that are similar to glass in texture include calcite and fluorite.
Shape of Inclusions: The difference between crystals and glass is often evident from the shapes of the inclusions they contain. Crystals usually have sharp inclusions, such as tourmaline, quartz, and topaz, while glass inclusions tend to be rounded or curved.
Feels Cold to Touch: Crystal feels naturally cool to the touch, while glass feels warm because it can retain heat from the surrounding environment. Some of the most common crystals that display this difference/similarity are rose quartz, amethyst, tourmaline, and citrine, all of which have a distinct coolness when touched.
4. Frequently Asked Questions
Why is crystal more recommended than glass for use in jewelry manufacturing?
- During the electroplating process, glass is more prone to bursting when exposed to temperature changes, especially when used as gemstones.
- In the gem setting process , glass is also more likely to produce shattering notches than crystal.
- Glass is more prone to wear and tear during wearing, scratching.
- Glass jewelry does not sparkle like crystal jewelry, so glass jewelry appears cheaper than crystal jewelry.
Are many glass jewelry sold in the form of crystal jewelry?
Yes, many glass products are sold in the form of crystals. Even many factories name some glass-made gems as xx crystal, but the material is still glass. Many people do not know the difference between glass and crystal.
How to distinguish crystal jewelry from glass jewelry?
By observing the appearance and weight, crystal and glass jewelry can be distinguished. Crystals usually have a higher refractive index than glass, making them sparkle when held and weigh more.
How to determine whether a crystal is valuable?
Factors such as cut, clarity, color, and size all affect the value of a crystal. Crystal experts can evaluate the value of a crystal based on these criteria.
Apart from glass, what other materials can be used to make fake crystals?
Other materials commonly used to make fake crystals include plastic, quartz, and resin. These substances can be dyed and shaped to mimic real gems, and are often used for ornaments or jewelry making because their cost is cheaper than real gems.
Why is the Swarovski crystal special?
Swarovski is an Austrian company that holds a patent for a high-precision crystal production process. Their crystals are also made from lead glass, but their cutting process is more complex than most crystals, achieving a higher degree of light refraction, resulting in more sparkle.
The lead content of their glass is also high, about 32%, which also increases the luster of the crystal. Their patented production method ensures that they can produce consistent crystals on a large scale.
With the gradual maturation of artificial crystal synthesis technology, the cost of crystal will become lower and lower.
Many people cannot distinguish between glass and crystal, and I hope this article can help you better understand the differences between crystal and glass, and avoid buying fake crystal products in the jewelry procurement process.
At the same time, cubic zirconia, moissanite, and lab-grown diamonds have become the mainstream of the market.
If you want to understand diamonds, moissanite, and cultured diamonds, please refer to the following article: Diamonds vs. Lab-Grown Diamonds vs. Moissanite.