The Crystal

Lead glass, or crystal, is a type of glass whose high lead content gives to it many technical as well as aesthetic benefits that have contributed to make it the highest form of glass.

Crystal is appreciated, since its discovery in the XVIIth century, for its brilliance, its transparency and its particular sound. A century later, Bohemian crystal introduced the notion of art of the table before French crystal, at the end of the same century, was put in the spolight thanks to its elegance envied as much as appreciated.

The Parisian society Escalier de Cristal, in particular, brought this material up to date by proposing the new mix of bronze and crystal. French creation was mainly concentrated in the north-east of France. This is where the crystal factories of Saint-Louis and Baccarat but also the Ecole de Nancy around Emile Gallé were born.


Practiced since Antiquity and synonymous with a certain luxury, as Louis XIV will demonstrate with the sumptuous decorations of the Palace of Versailles, gilding is a technique to cover wood, metal, glass, ceramic, stone or marble with gold. There are as much techniques of gilding as materials able to receive it.

The gilding on wood, after it had been prepared, can be done thanks to the antique technique of the water gilding but also, since the 19th century, by the gilding paste. For gilding on glass and ceramics, fusion gilding (gold adheres to the object heated at high temperature) is the most used. Gilding on stone and on marble consists of the isolation of the support by a varnish on which will be applied the gold leaves.

Metals (copper, brass, bronze) can be gilded in four ways. This is fire-gilding, a mixture of mercury with molten gold, electroplating, more economical, gilding paste, which allows to cover large size objects, and finally gilding with varnish, which is actually the application of a yellow varnish.