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Patterns Are Molded into Pressed Glass
Pressed glass is made by pressing hot, molten glass into a mould or form. The form contains the intricate pattern that it imparts to the glass piece. Glass moulds come in two, three or four pieces, so as you carefully inspect a piece of pressed glass, you should be able to see the tiny, raised seams that were formed when the piece was cast. Many pieces of pressed glass were made to imitate cut glass, so the designs on these pieces will be quite intricate.
Cut Glass Is Wheel-Cut
Cut glass also begins with molten glass pressed into a mould. The mould, however, is usually void of designs. When the piece is cooled, it is hand-carved on a diamond wheel, so the designs in cut glass are actually "cut." Any seam lines are polished smooth, so seam lines rarely appear on a piece of cut glass.
Ways to Differentiate Between Cut and Pressed Glass
Other than looking for seams that are often easy to see in pressed glass, you can run your fingers over the pattern in the glass. If the edges of the designs feel sharp, it is probably cut glass, as pressed glass patterns are rounded and smoother to the touch. Another way to see the difference between pressed and cut glass is to observe the way the glass catches the light. Cut glass, especially lead crystal, has a higher refraction rate and will bounce colours the way a prism does.
Which Type of Glass is More Expensive?
Cut glass is often more expensive than pressed glass because of the skilled hand work necessary to cut the designs into the piece and because the glass is usually of much higher quality, most likely lead crystal. However, there are collectors of pressed glass, and these pieces can be expensive also, depending upon their age and manufacturer.