Glass vs. Crystal

Glass vs. Crystal, Starfire vs. Optical, what does it all mean?


Glass is a generic name (like fish) while crystal is a subcategory of glass, as is jade, starfire and optic crystal (think goldfish, tuna, salmon). All are made in the same manner as glass but with different materials. So you could say that all crystal is glass but you would be wrong to say that all glass is crystal. Get it? Not yet? Well let me elaborate. The term crystal is widely used to identify more elegant glassware and specifically stemware. Although there is no one definition to distinguish the 2 of them, crystal is known to contain lead, at least 24% lead, and be more fragile than glass.


Jade glass, which is actually your typical everyday glass, has a green hue to it. Some find it unattractive, but this type of glass, the one with the green/aqua tinge to it is considerably stronger than crystal which is why it is used for people’s everyday glassware.


Crystal is generally light in colour and translucent. Some include properties to allow them to reflect the light offering the viewer a sampling of rainbow colours. Crystal is much more fragile than glass which is why when referring to crystal stemware; it is only brought out for special occasions.

Optic crystal, which is widely used for awards, is 100% lead free. It is the absence of lead that contributes to the optic crystals strength and hardness which allows it to be cut, engraved, edged, polished, and smoothed to a flawless finish. Optic crystal awards are preferred by many of our clients as they have a higher perceived value than your typical jade glass with the gre hue.

Starfire glass, also known as Starphire (the misspelling plays on sapphire because of it’s hardness) and Clear glass, is a low iron glass that offers high clarity and has a clear appearance opposed to the green hue of jade glass or the rainbow reflective effect of crystal. Much like crystal, starfire has a higher perceived value than jade glass.


Over the past 2 decades we have worked with, and are comfortable working with, all of the above types of glass on their own and in conjunction with other materials. Take a look at the design element section on our home page to see some of our glass, crystal and starfire creations!

Tammy Kim