What is the actual difference between different prism varieties? There is a number of different quality indications and these define different raw materials, glass, manufacturing methods, number of polished facets and light breaking qualities. Below, you will find descriptions of some of the most common varieties.
Is the name for a quality carelessly called "Italian crystal " meaning prisms made from of soda- lime glass which has a maximum of one facet flat cut other facets are firepolished and sunken . This type of crystal glitters not at all
This is the quality we use in most in our crystal chandeliers. The 1a indicates the crystal is handmade and every facet has been cut and polished. The crystals pressed out of a glass rod, cut and polished manually, one by one. This means that the crystals are not 100 % even, as opposed to machine-cut prisms such as Swarovski crystal. Just like everything else handmade, every crystal is unique. The glass mass is free from lead oxide; a more environmentally friendly clearing substance is used, which gives the crystal the ability to reflect light. The quality control that is conducted for 1a prisms is extremely strict, which means that any prism damaged or in any other way inadequate is not accepted.
Most people have heard about Bohemian crystals. This is an old concept which derives from the times when most glassworks were situated in Czech Republic/Bohemia. These glassworks used the handmade method which we described for quality 1a. However, today, both handmade and machine-cut crystals are manufactured in the remaining Czech factories, so the concept of Bohemian crystal has more to do with origin than quality. The 1a-prisms we use are mainly manufactured according to the Bohemian method. Main qualities produced in Bohemia: MC-Machine cut crystals with a raw sutrface 1B -Half cut crystals 1A -full cut crystals Extra quality -machine cut Swarovsky
K9 AND K5
The Chinese K9 borosilicate glass is easy to produce and cheaper compared to other glass crystals. It has relative high refractive index and is clear. Production costs being low making it poular when trimming cheap iron frames. The combination offering a low price. The US equivalent to K9 is BK7. The K5 is even cheaper quality used for low budget chandeliers. K9 and K5 just describes the raw material not the cut and polishing that may vary.
In Sweden "Brilliant" has been used for many different qualities. The first time I heard about it was when it was used for the Swarovski crystal back in the 60-ties. They started to produce crystals for chandeliers on demand from Hans J. Krebs. Hans said, "The child must have a name" and there it started. Soon Swarovski named the crystal Strass, and soon the competition of Krebs at that time started to use the worked in name Brilliant. And so it went on, now even used for chinese crystals. At least you should know thet crystals called Brilliant mainly has been resonable good.
A big factory in Egypt that produces a Swarovski look a like .The glass is very clear and the cut and polish of high quality. The refraction is very good. Classical crystals not available due to the machine made production. A good alternative for those who wants high quality machine made crystals but think Swarovski is to expensive.
STRASS AND SPECTRA
Strass is a trademark which was created by Swarovski. Technically, these crystals are classified as the highest quality prisms on the market. Strass crystals are machine-cut, which means that all facets are identical on every prism. Lead oxide is used as a clarifying substance, it gives the prisms great potential for light reflection. All prisms are identical copies of one another and they all reflect light in the same way. The strass prisms are more expensive than other varieties. Swarovski also produces another quality based on lead free glass. It is called Spectra. It is not possible to produce classical thin shapes in any of the qualities. Strass should be the choice if you aim for the highest technical quality and have no interest in hand crafted crystals. The price is high, but so is refraction rate. It has one weeknes though -it is easily damaged when crystals bump into each other.