Getting started collecting cut glass, however, can be a little trickier than some might think. Since cut glass is so popular there are many reproductions and knock offs on the market. And while these examples might be beautiful, they are not antique cut glass.
Cut glass is nothing more than glass that's been blown on a wheel by a master craftsman. Once the basic shape has been created, the glass is etched or cut to display intricate designs or details. These details are what make good cut glass stand out from knock offs.
Cut glass of the highest quality is brilliant in appearance. The individual cuts help make light play tricks on the piece itself. The colors of the rainbow can come alive in a fine piece of cut glass as light rays play against the intricate details.
Most fine pieces of cut glass are made from leaded crystal. This means the glass itself will give off a distinct "ding" much like a bell if it's flicked with a fingertip. The sound is as unmistakable as the slight imperfections in the detailed designs.
When looking for American cut glass, antique lovers will find these pieces rose in popularity in the 1800s. To make American glass, master glassmakers would mark up a blank with the pattern. The cutting itself was done on the wheel and the glass was highly polished after the cutting process to ensure a fine finished product. Acid baths became a standard practice toward the end of the century, adding to the smooth feel of a highly cut piece of glass.
Whether they're vases, candy dishes, crystal glasses for drinking or even pitchers, cut glass pieces are highly collectible and well loved by those who appreciate finely crafted works of art.
To find the best in cut glass look for pieces that are brilliant in design. Avoid those that have "seams" in the glass. This means they've been made using a mold rather than having been hand blown. If the best is wanted, check for the signature leaded crystal ring.
Avoiding knock offs can be done, also, by learning different glassmakers' marks. Many of the old time factories had their own distinct signatures they'd cut into their glass pieces. These are the sign of good glass and the signatures are well known in the antiques world.
Cut glass is a favorite of collectors for many reasons, but sometimes it's almost impossible to avoid getting a piece of reproduction glass. If you know the qualities of a good piece and understand the makers' marks to look for you lessen your chances of buying a knock off. But to make sure you're happy with every purchase, buy items for your collection that compliment it and make you happy. You can never go wrong that way!