Cut crystal has been a favorite heirloom to pass down to generations for hundreds of years. Many manufacturers over the years have created some gorgeous designs. You'll find vintage cut crystal in the form of wine and water glasses, decanters, bowls, plates and other fine cut crystal items.
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Look for a manufacturer's signature on the item when you try to identify vintage cut crystal. The name of the manufacturer is usually acid-etched on the bottom of the piece. For instance, the name "Waterford" (an Irish company that leads in cut crystal creation, especially for the bridal market) might appear on the bottom of a wine glass or water goblet. But not all vintage cut crystal can be identified this way. Not all name brand pieces were marked by the manufacturer and some patterns are so old that they can't be traced back to a company.
Identify vintage cut crystal by examining the pattern. As the name implies, cut crystal has shapes, designs, patterns and prisms cut into the glass. Distinctive elegant patterns are often seen in Victorian era pieces. Beautifully enameled colors that trim the cut crystal designs are often found also, especially in the Victorian.
Try the age-old test of fine crystal collectors in the United States and abroad when you want to identify vintage cut crystal. Flick the tip of your finger against the edge of a cut crystal glass. It should ring with an echoing musical tone created by vibration.
Taste wine from a wine glass that you think is vintage cut crystal. Whether vintage, or recently manufactured, many wine experts insist that fine cut crystal makes the wine zip with a clearer, crisper taste. Wine tasters have been able to tell the difference in imitation cut glass and fine cut crystal simply by comparing the taste of wine from each glass. Experts say that when you examine a fine cut crystal glass under a microscope, you can see that the glass has a coarse, uneven surface. This texture and surface is what magnifies the taste of the wine.