Starting a collection has many rewards, partly from the satisfaction of owning and partly from seeing your collection grow. If you value beauty above anything, collecting exquisite pieces of crystal ware could be perfect for you. Though delicate, their elegance shines and enhances any room or home where they are displayed right. If you want to begin collecting crystals but do not quite know how to get your foot in the door, then let this guide help you start your journey.
Starting your crystal collection
A great way to begin is to ask the following questions:
What are you collecting?
Crystals come in a wide variety of forms and colors, although they commonly take the form of clear tableware, such as glasses, jugs, and decanters, among others. You can opt to collect anything crystal or choose pieces with specific properties—maybe you like blue-colored ones or those that are at least thirty years old. Your choice will affect how much your collection will cost you at the end of the day.
Why are you collecting?
Most collectors go through their quest based on sheer inspiration. Whether it’s antiques, coins, or rubber bands, they collect something because they perceive beauty or abstract value in it. Some consider their collection as an investment of sorts, something they can sell at a lofty price in the future. Many crystal pieces—especially rare ones or those made by prominent craftsmen—tend to appreciate with age. Would you be motivated by aesthetics alone or would you take potential profit into account?
How far will you go for your collection?
Collectors are said to buy from their hearts—if something is valuable and within their price range, then they buy it. However, an authentic crystal is anything but cheap. Some pieces you may even have to buy abroad. Special characteristics, such as age and limited release, will raise costs further. Over time, you may find that you have spent a fairly large amount of money just to keep your collection growing. If your resources are visibly finite, it will help to set a limit on the price range of crystals you will buy.
After answering these questions, you will have developed sufficient understanding of your motivation as a collector. Your answers will act as your guide and may help you in the future should you have to make significant decisions, such as the kind of crystal to buy or whether or not you should continue with your hobby. It is also with these in mind that you will purchase the first pieces in your collection.
Caring for and displaying your crystals
So you have bought your first crystal pieces. What do you do? Part of the appeal of collecting is knowing that you own something you can save for posterity—something that will last through time and changing circumstances. Does this mean you should keep your crystal collection tucked away safe in their original boxes or containers?
Most collectors are averse to the idea of ever taking their collection out of the box, largely because they aim to keep the items in pristine condition. The beauty of a crystal collection is that you don’t need to follow such a rule. Crystal glassware pieces, after all, are created to be used and not just displayed for your guests to see. So, by all means, take them out of their boxes and use them for that special dinner you’re having or that romantic home-made date you’ve been planning for weeks. What matters is how you handle them when they’re not in use.
A china cabinet is one of the best places to store and display your crystal collection. Most cabinets are made from heavy wood, so they make excellent, stable storage places for fragile tableware like crystals and porcelain. They usually have glass fronts, meaning everyone who enters your home will be treated to the sight of your beautiful collection. If you have china pieces, you’ll be glad to know that they look good with crystal, so do display them together if space allows it.
If you are worried about arranging your crystals, a good advice is to group those that look alike. This prevents pieces with simple designs, such as dainty champagne flutes, from being outshone by more intricate items, such as ornate decanters or whiskey glasses. If you are pairing your crystals with china, place the porcelain pieces behind as their colors make them easier to see than transparent glassware.
Crystals make great antiques, but they are not forever, especially if you don’t take good care of them. To maintain your collection and keep them in mint condition, always remember to do the following:
- Wash your crystal before and after use using warm, soapy water and a soft cloth.
- If used to hold any liquid, take out the fluid immediately after use and wash the crystal to prevent staining. Even water can cause stains when unchecked.
- If stains did occur, remove them using vinegar and a soft cloth, or soak the crystal in equal parts water and vinegar. You can also use mild abrasives like rice or broken eggshells.
- Do not air-dry. Use a soft cloth to dry the crystal. If you are handling stemmed glasses, hold the crystal by the bowl and not by the stem to prevent twisting.
- Store glasses right-side-up to prevent damage to their stems.
- If serving food or drinks using crystal bowls, use wooden spoons instead of metal to prevent chipping.
- Never expose the crystal to rapid temperature changes or let naked fire touch its surface.
- Do not use them in a microwave or to hold food inside a freezer.
- Never stack glasses on top of each other.
A crystal collection is one you can cherish and gain a lot from. It definitely isn’t a cheap hobby, but it will give you a lot of value if you know how to choose pieces well. Crystal isn’t like many collectibles, where the fun ends in the display cabinets. You can use them to make any occasion more special or impress your guests, just be sure to care for them properly in between.