Glasses and crystals are usually found in parties and special occasions as people use them when drinking wine and other beverages to celebrate. For those people who do not have much interest, it is extremely difficult to tell their differences.

However, if you are into collecting glasses or crystal ware, you should know how to tell glass from crystal by distinguishing between the two materials. Before learning the essential differences between glass and crystal, it is necessary to define first their meaning in popular culture.


The term "glass" is usually used for drinking vessels, whether they have handles or not. It is usually transparent, but there are glasses that are come in various colors.

But as a raw material, soda-lime makes up above 90% of every glass being manufactured nowadays. People also make use of glass to create bottles, window panes and tableware, as well as opto-electronics.


When people say "crystal" they often refer to a more delicate type of glass, which is made from silica (sand), a high-portion of lead oxide, potash or soda and other chemical additives.

Lead crystals are valued for their decorative properties and durability despite their lack of crystalline structure. The use of the term crystal is comes from the Venetian term "cristallo" that was used to describe the imitation of rock crystal by the Murano glassmakers.

Now that you have learned more about glasses and crystal, here are the ways for how to tell glass from crystal. While taking these steps, keep in mind that the soda-lime glass contains 50% silica (sand) and has no lead, while crystal contains 24% or higher lead.

Tips on How to Determine If an Item is Glass or Crystal

  • Get a glass and hold it up to a light source. You can tell that it is crystal if it creates a rainbow prism effect. If it doesn’t, then you are holding just a plain glass.
  • If you tap the glass and you hear a musical ring with a little bit of echo, then it is crystal. Otherwise, it's most likely a regular soda-lime glass. Remember that the greater the lead content, the longer the tone.
  • If you compare 2 glasses that have the same size, the crystal glass is naturally heavier than the standard ones due to its lead content.
  • Wet your finger and gently swipe it around the rim of a glass. If it makes a good sound, it is most likely crystal.
  • Shine a pocket UV light on the glass. If you see a bluish-purple tint, then it is crystal. If you see dull-green, then it is lime-soda glass.
  • I bet you have already heard of the phrase 'crystal clear' a lot of times. It simply refers to the clarity of crystal, while glasses are cloudy even if you hold it up to the light. The more lead, the clearer the glass. The crystal’s reflective quality is the reason why it is much preferred for wine glasses, jewelry pendants and chandeliers.
  • Most glasses have sharp cuts, while crystals are rounded, polished and they are cut in a precise manner.
  • Remember that crystals with over 35% lead will actually sparkle.
  • Glass usually has a thicker rim than crystal, as it is made thicker for more durability. On the other hand, crystal has the capability of being spun thin while maintaining its strength.
  • When it comes to price, there is a greater chance that the item is crystal if it is too expensive, as standard glasses are typically more affordable.