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This Valentines Day it is all about bold red crystalware

Posted on by Joanna Maya / Posted in A History Lesson, Crystal & Glass | Leave a comment

The tradition of celebrating Valentine’s Day has many legends. A common one is the story of the priest, St. Valentine, who was martyred in the third century for marrying young couples against the emperor’s decree.
Although, the topic of this post sounds very obvious and the selection of crystalware too, my intention was to explore the reason why red is the most chosen hue for the colour of Valentine’s Day?

Birds of Paradise Champagne Glasses

 

Birds of Paradise Champagne Glasses

Traditionally, we always assumed that red is a colour of love. It’s been accepted that it symbolises energy, passion and deep love.

For instance, red flowers are reserved for intimate, romantic relationships. From earliest times, a red rose has been valued for its fragrance and beauty. Giving a red flower to a friend for Valentine’s Day could send the wrong message and create an awkward situation.

Red Effect on Attraction

However, in 2008 the groundbreaking study conducted by two psychologists, Andrew Elliot and Daniela Niesta, revealed that the color red makes men feel more amorous toward women. And men are unaware of the role the color plays in their attraction.

The research provided the first empirical support for society’s enduring love affair with red. “From the red ochre used in ancient rituals to today’s red hearts on Valentine’s Day, the red colour has been tied to carnal passions and romantic love across cultures and millennia.” However, this study is the only work to scientifically document the effects of red color on behavior in the context of relationships.

Men’s response to red stems from deeper biological roots.
What many women have claimed before, the men affection to red was studied on human and non-human (chimpanzees) and confirmed that it both relates to the sexual context as well as to the overall physical and mental “chemistry” towards females.

Red Crystalware

Thus, by bringing this topic to your attention, it was somehow obvious for me to focus on red crystalware and bring a selection of champagne flutes, wine goblets, tumblers and vases, in this bold and opulent ruby hue, to your attention.

Beautiful flowers can always work well (as does a good bottle of champagne). They are there for a reason. However, we can’t ignore the completely OMG things that we can’t technically afford but really, really want…and for this occasion the red is the only colours to go for.

Most coveted glassware this Valentine’s Day:

RUBY RED WINE CRYSTAL GOBLETS, SET OF 2

RUBY RED WINE CRYSTAL GOBLETS, SET OF 2

Glass and crystalware trends for 2016

Posted on by Joanna Maya / Posted in Crystal in Modern Time, Decor Trends | Leave a comment

First of all, Happy New Year from Gurasu Team and myself.
January and February are always very exciting for me. These months we attend a number of leading design fairs where we meet our colleagues, suppliers and seek inspirations…

Gurasu Shining Star Lavender crystal tealight candle holder

Not long ago I was interviewed for one publication on glassware trends that we will see at shelves of department and independent stores. I wanted to share this with you with a great excitement and announce that crystalware and cut glass is one of the main trends of 2016! My New Year’s wish is to see all our British and European crystal craftsmen having full hands of work, the crystal industry thriving and providing new apprenticeships for our future, home grown glass blowers and glass cutters!

What do we see as emerging glassware trends of 2016?

In 2016 we will see a number of trends that have already emerged in 2015. However, what makes me particularly delighted is the fact that crystalware is coming back in trend. The industry that have suffered a decline over the last 15 years is proving that crafted glass is what people will buy in to. One of the main emerging trends is cut glass. We will see a number of glasses being cut or etched. As Gurasu focuses on maximalist, patterned designs, crystal is a luxurious product that will receive a significant interest. Craft and quality will be key.

The second trend we have already seen in 2015 is ombre effect on glass – whether achieved by sandblasting or engraving. The milky, frosted clear and coloured glasses will be popular in Spring/Summer 2016.

The metallic effect is another trend that we will be seeing in 2016.
We will be very excited to show you our new, made in England collection that will combine copper and crystal…

Finally, the colours which will be dominating shelves are pastel lilac, lavender, blush pink or ruby red as well as deep blue hues including teal, prussian blue and smoke.

So my New Year’s second wish is to see lots of coloured glassware on your beautifully-styled tables in 2016. And remember, the well-dressed table doesn’t have to be grand in style, it is about editing and selecting the right accessories – things that are elegant, appropriate and of good quality.

The history behind five Christmas traditions that we all love

Posted on by Joanna Maya / Posted in A History Lesson, Crystal & Glass | Leave a comment

Christmas is coming. The long awaited break after a busy 2015 is delightfully approaching. Most of us have their table setting sorted. Some have still little time to shop for late Christmas gifs. Others are waiting for the flight to the desired holiday destination.

I love cherishing traditions. This year the Christmas wreath will take a central place on my table, the stockings will hang and 12 traditional meals will be served. The festive time when family and friends unite all by one table.

Ruby decanter and ruby crystal collection

 

Ruby Red Crystal Decanter

 

This week I decided to devote my article to five Christmas traditions that we all love but we may not be entirely sure what is their origin.

Firstly, The 12 Days of Christmas

The 12 days of Christmas is now famous from the song about a person receiving presents for the “true love”.

However, the true is that The 12 Days of Christmas should start on Christmas Day and last until the evening of the 5th January – also known as Twelfth Night. The 12 Days have been celebrated in Europe since before the Middle Ages and were a time of celebration. The 12 Days each traditionally celebrate a feast day for a saint and/or have different celebrations and it is not really, about buying a gift each and every day.

Secondly, The Tradition of Mistletoe at Christmas

There are lots of legends and traditions surrounding mistletoe. The best-known tradition is about the kissing. Hanging mistletoe high in a room and kissing loved ones, or complete strangers, beneath it, is hugely popular Christmas custom.

Thirdly, my favourite Christmas Stockings

Although, Christmas stockings, might have been replaced by a Christmas Tree in many homes, they are still a wonderful decorative and meaningful element to this lovely custom.

The tradition comes from 1800 when they were hanged for St Nichols as a sign that we will soon come.

The legend tells about the widowed father who had three, beautiful daughters. However, he was worried that their poor status will not allow them to get married. St Nichols heard about his circumstances but did not want to offer money as the man would have refused it. Instead, one night, St Nichols slid down the chimney of the family’s house and filled the girls’ recently laundered stockings, which happened to be drying by the fire, with gold coins. And then he disappeared. The family became better off and the daughters could marry.

Nowadays, we fill them with sweets, small presents or oranges which is a symbol of well-being.

Next, Christmas Crackers

The history of Christmas crackers began in 1860. There are many assumptions as to where this tradition comes from but the most truthful to me is the one associated with Tom Smith, a confectioner from London. He travelled to Paris in the 1840s where he was taken with bon-bons, sweets wrapped in a colourful twist of paper. Some time later the crackle of a log in the fireplace of the Smith family home gave him the idea for the snap. After he died, his sons expanded the business with introducing big range of ‘themed’ cracker.

Finally, the Advent wreath

The symbolism of the Advent wreath is beautiful. The Advent wreath is part of the long-standing Catholic tradition. However, the actual origins are uncertain. There is evidence of pre-Christian Germanic peoples using wreathes with lit candles during the cold and dark December days as a sign of hope in the future warm and extended-sunlight days of Spring.

The wreath is made of various evergreens, signifying continuous life. Even these evergreens have a traditional meaning which can be adapted to Catholic faith: The laurel signifies victory over persecution and suffering; pine, holly, and yew, immortality; and cedar, strength and healing.

If you celebrate Christmas, what’s your favourite tradition? Candy canes, pantomime, Christmas Bells or something else completely?

A guide to cocktail glasses

Posted on by Joanna Maya / Posted in Crystal & Glass, My Favourite Cocktails | Leave a comment

With a festive season gaining the biggest attention over the next two weeks, the lead up can be almost as fun as the big day itself.

Amid choosing the presents and planning the food, selecting the drinks is a particularly exciting task, often started months or weeks in advance. As our cocktail glasses are almost selling out, it must be true that a sip of something special at Christmas means a lot to us.

With my recent post on my favourite G&T drink, I have to make sure that there is a bottle (or two) in the cocktail cabinet. I will also ensure that the rest of my family is satisfied too and a bottle of fizz and a Scotch will be in the fridge waiting to be consumed.

As festive drinks take time and energy to create – they deserve a beautiful glass!

I decided to compose a perfect cocktail glass guide to explain and clear any confusion you might have regarding different types of cocktail glasses for different cocktails.

In order to create a show stopping cocktail you will need to play a professional barista. You will need to prepare the cocktail in the “right” glass. So a martini will be served in a martini glass, or so-called “cocktail glass”, “margarita glass” and a Bloody Mary in a highball glass.

TIP: Unless you always serve particular drinks, it makes sense to collect a whole array of glasses from shot glasses to coupes and a variety of tumblers. They don’t have to match – they will draw the attention to the fact that every drink is unique.

A general rule of thumb is, the stronger the drink, the smaller the glass. But, this is also just a guideline.
Let’s investigate various types of glasses available:

 

Highball (long drink) glass; volume of 320 to 400 ml

Highball (long drink) glass; volume of 320 to 400 ml

General uses: Bloody Mary, Mojito or G&T

Shining Star whisky tumbler

 

Double Old Fashioned or Tumbler (short version of the highball) ; volume: 250 to 350 ml

Typical use: drinks with a high proportion of mixer to alcohol. Often, cocktails with whiskey, whiskey on ice or Scotch.

Cocktail inspiration – Ginger Whisky

Fill tumbler with ice. Squeeze in the juice from an orange wedge. Add 25ml blended whisky. Top up with ginger ale ale stir.

Cocktail glass (aka martini glass, martini saucer); volume: 250 ml

Cocktail glass (aka martini glass, martini saucer); volume: 250 ml

This is my favourite glass, as any cocktail looks fabulous in Birds of Paradise glasses. Although, It’s very easy to spill your cocktail due to the glass’ shape, so be careful – this is not the type of glass you want to take onto the dance floor.

TIP: Always handle a glass by its stem (if it has one). This prevents your hand from warming the drink. It also prevents finger-marks on the glass.

Typical use: Martini, of course. Also used for margaritas. . A slight draw back is its small volume content which makes it less suitable for large cocktails with many ingredients. Cocktail inspiration: Espresso Martini. Add a shot of vodka and Kahlua, 10ml of sugar syrup and 25ml espresso to an ice filled cocktails shaker. Strain into chilled martini glasses and garnish with three coffee beans.

 

Champagne flute ; volume: 170 ml – 200 ml

Champagne flute ; volume: 170 ml – 200 ml

Typical uses: anything with champagne and bubbles. The tall shape of the glass helps prevent the drink going flat too fast. It also let bubbles rise slower, giving the best visual effect of the bubbles.

Cocktail inspiration : the classic champagne cocktail
Champagne , Angustura bitters – soaked sugar cube.

This is my favourite cocktail based on champagne. Place a sugar cube in the bottom of a champagne flute. Add two dashes of angostura bitters and fill the glass with champagne. Garnish with a lemon peel for a greater impact.

Shot glass ; volume: 25 ml - 50 ml

 

Shot glass ; volume: 25 ml – 50 ml

Typical use: shooters, designed to be hit back and swallowed in a single gulp.

Cocktail inspiration: Mince Pie vodka

It will require time for vodka to infuse aroma for 7-10 days but the results will be delicious.
Just add golden sultanas, caster sugar, cinnamon stick , cloves and zest of orange and lemon. Mix all ingredients together and pour to a jar to infuse for up to 10 days. Strain and decant into a pretty bottle.

Champagne coupe - volume: 300ml

Champagne coupe – volume: 300ml

Often seen at weddings, this is now a widely used glass for cocktails. In fact, it is totally unsuitable for champagne and drinks with bubbles as it shape results in the bubbles dissipating quickly and the drink going flat. Regardless of it, it is a beautiful glass that is suitable for any mixes drinks including vintage classics such as The Bradshaw or eggnog.

Cocktail inspiration: Eggnog

So retro and homely, is as chic as anything if served in a coupe glass. I favour bourbon or rum over whisky as I believe that whisky’s taste is so significant that adding spices should spoil it. I like adding grated nutmeg, cinnamon, chocolate or orange zest.

Let us help you celebrate the festivities with our range of crystal glassware.

Have a Happy Christmas!

My perfect Gin & Tonic in our Sky Blue High Ball Glass

Posted on by Joanna Maya / Posted in Crystal & Glass, My Favourite Cocktails | Leave a comment

There is something uniquely restorative about gin and tonic. It seems that it tastes always the same and there is no room for disappointment when ordering it. When I am caught in the moment and asked the question by a gentleman (my husband) “what would you like to drink?” – in those indecisive moments – I automatically pop out the answer “Gin & Tonic, please”.

Sky blue crystal high ball glasses

Sky Blue High Ball Glasses

However, despite G&T’s apparent simplicity, it’s often made terribly. The most common are Hendricks, Bombay or Gordon’s and these are often the one served to us on the night out.

So what is the secret of a good G&T?
Is it the spirit, or whether there is not enough ice? Maybe the glass is not right? When all the incorrect ingredients are combined it all spoils the reputation of my most-loved cocktail…

The spirit – Gin
Did you know that there are over 100 independent brands of Gin in England?
England has its reputation and history of making this trunk since 17th century when it reached the English channel, and became well known in Britain after William of Orange took the English throne in 1688. Due to a low taxation, locally produced gin was cheap to make and so, cheap to buy. The popularity of it was impressive.

Jupiter
Gin can be flavoured with a wide range of botanicals but the core ingredient must be Jupiter. The rest is left to different producers.

Recently I have been invited to a club and served the Berkeley Square gin. I soon realised that it is indeed the single malt of gins infused with botanicals including basil, lavender, kaffir lime leaf and sage that are wrapped in muslin and left for 48 hours to infuse its essentials oils. Handcrafted at the oldest distillery in England it became my favourite of all.

As much as my son loves ice cream/hot chocolate parlour in Camden, my husband and I found our glorious place too. In the heart of Camden Lock we came across the micro distillery called Half Hitch. Infused with black tea and bergamot is like a fragrance to my pallets.

The perfect glassware

The perfect glasses are high balls (hi-balls) or in other words Long drink glasses. It is a glass tumbler that contains 280-350 ml and predominantly used to serve highball cocktails and mixed drinks.
For every cocktail to taste great the well-chilled crystal glass is an equivalent to a sommelier tasting wine glass. My ever favourite crystal high ball glass is Sky Blue decorated with the golden berry.

Tonic:
A fresh, crisp tonic is the final secret to achieve the best tasting drink. Forget about the bottle that had been opened two weeks ago and was not consumed since than. It will only spoil the lovely spirit you decided to buy.

Garnish:
Decorating is the final touch, the sensory “wow” factor.
My favourite garnishes include gold berry (Physalis fruit-berry) as on the image, watermelon and lemon with mint.

The rule of thumb is keeping everything cold. Gin and crystalware in the freezer along with a tray full of good ice, and some small bottles of fresh tonic along with garnishes in the fridge.

Recipe:
2 shots (50ml/2oz) frozen gin
Cold tonic water
Sky Blue Crystal High Ball
Cubed ice
Physalis and star anise to garnish

Method:
Fill your high ball with ice, add the gin and slowly top with chilled tonic water. Stir gently then add a straw. Twist the star anise, cut one Physalis in half and add in . The second Physalis use to decorate.

Enjoy and have fun!

7 ways to make your table elegant this Christmas

Posted on by Pedro Matias / Posted in Crystal & Glass | Leave a comment

There are unavoidable moments in life when meals are rushed. Food on the run is unenjoyable. However, drawing attention to living the moment and starting to embrace on small luxuries will make us realise that a single morning coffee can be elevated by pretty china or glassware.

Xmas-2015-dinner-table
Festive celebrations such as Christmas are moments when there is no excuse. We all start to think about decorating our tables. I have already started 😉 Luckily, I have plenty of beautiful crystalware at home.

Invest in some beautiful luxuries that can be used not only for Christmas but every weekend.

China
Most of us use the term china when talking about ceramic tableware regardless of whether it’s made from porcelain, earthenware or stoneware. For a Special celebration, my favourite is bone china. As the name directs, a key ingredient of it is ash from animal bones. This china is pure white and very translucent. It is also very strong as it’s fired in a high temperature.
On my wish list this Christmas there are: House of Hackney mugs for my morning tea, and for a dinnerware, the latest collection called “Arc” by Richard Brandon.

As a focal point use a flat plate, small tray, platter or tile that will bring together all condiments – salt pepper, mint sauce, pickles – whatever you need for that meal.

Crystalware

It is obvious that crystal glassware is meant for fine dining but there is no reason why you can’t use your crystals everyday to add a touch of class to your life

You may already know from my previous posts that crystalware is a terms that refers to leaded glass. If you are planning to host a dinner for family or friends this Christmas you will probably need a minimum of six glasses.

When I was designing the Birds of Paradise collection, I aimed to have a set of glasses in six different colours. I had a purely practical reason in my mind. Guests tend to mix their glasses. With each colour being allocated to one person there is no room for such mistakes.

Crockery
Crockery is an essential. Getting it right will elevate your experience at the table. Solid Silver, silver-plated, stainless steel, or very popular this season – copper or brass – whichever you choose they must match the styling on your table.
How many pieces? A place setting for each person comprises seven pieces – two knives and two forks (for main and starter) a soupspoon, a dessertspoon and a teaspoon. Most sets do not include starter knives and forks so you may need to purchase more standard sets to so you don’t have to wash in between the meals.

Candleholders or tea light candle votives
Candles make any mealtime feel special. We lid a candle every dinner time, even for mid –week suppers. It became a ritual of ours that is ingrained now as putting out the
cutlery. I am against candles based on paraffin – it is true that they release a stronger fragrance however, often they cause a headache. I only use soya/rapeseed or beeswax candles. They will also not interfere with a smell of your delicious food.

Tablecloth & Napkins
The safest colour of  your tablecloth to choose for your set up is neutral.  Weather white, grey or beige – it all depends on what colours of tableware you are planning to display. I have fallen in love with a linen “Lario Petrol” tablecloth by Designers Guild. It is in stinking prussian blue hue but as my glasses are coloured it will make my table setting a theatrical play.

Place card holders
There are plenty of opportunities to add layers of decoration from the simple to the extravagant. Having place card holders on your table is a small detail that makes a difference and shows to your guest that you though about  every detail.

Flowers
Add flowers. Even just a few stems of buds taken from the garden or a Christmas tree will make a massive difference. Keep arrangements low (30cm maximum). Steer clear of powerful scented blooms – you don’t want any fragrance to interfere with your delicious food.

Joanna’s table setting’s colour board for this Christmas:
Wine glasses: Smoke Pineapple wine glasses
Water/juice tumblers: Mixed colours Pineapple tumblers
Tablecloth and napkins: grey/ prussian blue colour scheme
Flowers: Burgundy/green hydrogen and pine tree branches
Candleholders: Shining star votives in lavender and clear crystal
Cutlery: Brass finished
China: White with gold details fine dinnerware

Crystal trophies by Gurasu

Posted on by Gurasu Crystal / Posted in Design Inspiration, Interior & Consumer Shows | Leave a comment

Gosh, this was the night!

Two weeks ago we announced that Gurasu Crystal had been commissioned making trophies for the Independent Hotel Show Awards Ceremony, which took place last week, 20th October.

Gurasu's Independent Hotel Show Awards Ceremony

In its fourth year, the show brought together luxury, boutique and the independent hotel sector delivering an amazing business event.

Gurasu handcrafted trophies for the awards’ ceremony that were handed out to two winners: Jeff Ward of the Gotham Hotel for The Outstanding New Hotel and Olga Polizzi, winner of Independent Hotelier of the year.

Among number of crystal studios we decided to work with the one that had the best expertise in making similar pieces.

The crystal trophy:

Gurasu Trophy for Independent Hotel Show Awards Ceremony

Meticulously designed, beautifully cut and hand painted with gold leaf, transformed into modern, elegant trophies that represented the character of the show. Joanna Maya was influenced by the refreshed brand identity of the show and its new logo.

The trophy had to represent the client’s ethos and style. When you look at it the trophy supposed to bring to your mind this show. At the same time, it had to be unique and surprising. Finally, It had to represent Gurasu’s design aesthetics – a synergy between the past as present. Joanna Maya

The process:

Trophies were hand worked in Bohemia region of the Czech Republic and hand finished in England. Four specialist craftsmen worked for 18 hours to achieve the perfect shape in crystal, cut and clarity to each trophy prior to the pieces being lavishly lustred and finished in gold leaf.

The process of making presentation boxes was commissioned to the London printing studio, which uses traditional, binding techniques and posses a Royal Warrant. The wooden stands were handcrafted by the local craftsman and finished with an engraved Gurasu logo.

Gurasu commissioned to make crystal trophies

Posted on by Gurasu Crystal / Posted in General | Leave a comment

Gurasu Crystal was commissioned to make trophies for the Independent Hotel Show Awards Ceremony on 20-21st October.

Independent Hotel Show is the only forum in the UK bringing together luxury, boutique and independent hotel sector.

Hotel show promo - women in jacuzzi

Gurasu is a London-based crystal design studio set up by Joanna Maya, a young entrepreneur with a passion for fine crystalware.

Behind the exquisite tableware, which adorns stylish hotels and homes across the UK is a passion to keep the craft of crystal making alive.

By championing the best of Britain’s young crystalware designers to hand cut their designs in England and Czech Republic using traditional techniques, Gurasu aims to offer luxury collections that bring a fresh maximalist aesthetic to modern interiors.

Gurasu handcrafted two trophies for the Event’s awards ceremony that will be handed out to the winner of the Independent Hotelier category and The Outstanding New Hotel in the evening of 20th October.

The project was very complicated due to the shape, which had to be achieved with lead crystal. Gurasu has been working with the best studios across Europe to make its trophies.

Look out for the next post with Images and more information about the craftsmanship process.

Follow the conversation on Twitter #IHS15

Why Choose Crystal as a Gift?

Posted on by Joanna Maya / Posted in Crystal & Glass, Decor Trends | Leave a comment

I thought that writing a piece on this topic is just right in time when everyone is slowly starting to plan what to get as a Christmas gift.

Joanna Maya with Gurasu Crystal Display

Crystal products can be put in several categories, respective of their use – drinkware, tableware, giftware, art glass, interior decorations, lighting etc.

Regardless of their use, all of the listed crystal products are distinguished for their colour clarity and material purity, as well as their transparency.

If you decide to buy a crystal gift you should consider what type of gift will serve this person’s personality the most. Here are some keywords you may want to use when searching for this perfect present.

 

Gurasu Crystal Collection on Display

DRINKWARE AND TABLEWARE

Drinkware or beverage is a general term for a vessel intended to contain beverages or liquid foods for consumption.
When it comes to style, the choice is endless. Patterned or plain? Coloured or clear? And that is even before you have decided which type of glasses this special person will most enjoy drinking from.

TUMBLERS

Are flat-bottomed drinking glasses, for example: highball glass, for mixed drinks, iced tea or juice glass, double old fashioned, shot glass.

GOBLET

Is a universal name for a stem glass, mostly used for wine incl. Chardonnay, Burgundy, Bordeaux … There is a variety of different stems, depending on their use: champagne flute, champagne coupe also known as champagne saucer – has a wide shallow bowl. Cocktail glass or martini glass with a wide, shallow bowl, cordial, a stem glass for ice cream, sherry glass or a sniffer – for brandy or cognac.
My advice: cocktail glasses and champagne coupes are perfect for these mini desserts too. Shot glasses can be commandeered for use at parties to serve tiny portions of soups or mousse.

Among barware we also find sake cups, tea cups, pitchers, decanter, ice buckets, beer glasses, bottle stoppers etc.

Crystal tableware complements drinkware – serving plates, serving bowls, cake plates jars, napkin rings, vases, candleholders, coasters etc.

GIFTWARE

Crystal giftware is a reliable choice uniting appreciated and popular designs. Aesthetic perfection yet functionality have enabled them to enter many homes, business offices and become gifts of choice for various occasions.

Giftware includes everything we present our friends, family, business partners or ourselves.
Vases: Think of the smallest bud vases for single stems, vases for bouquets, large footed vases that make a statement on their own.

Bowls: from small confetti bowls, which are popular as giveaways for weddings, to bowls that make a perfect centrepiece on a table, footed fruit bowls, small nut bowls, keepsake bowls.

Lighting: including lamps and crystal candle tea light holders also known as votives. These decorations will prove very helpful for someone who likes raising the bar and makes a special effort with the table. For me candles are the absolute must for dining at night. I light the candle pretty much every mealtime.

When thinking about buying crystalware try not to consider this as a “formal” gift. As there is a clear shift toward craftsmanship and quality, everyone will appreciate the effort and the luxury that you wanted him/her to experience for life.

Q&A – lead vs lead free and what makes crystal special and luxurious?

Posted on by Gurasu Crystal / Posted in Crystal & Glass | Leave a comment

If a potential customer comes to our website it means that he or she is in pursuit of fine crystalware. She/He either looks for a special gift or crystal glasses for themselves. We decided to put together a new post interviewing our founder, Joanna Maya to answer questions we sometimes are asked. Namely, what is fine crystalware? Which factors distinguish one brand from another and what is the difference between lead and not lead crystal.

Rainbow Ruby Crystal Collection

Q: What is a crystal and how is it different from glass?

JM: Crystal is one of the most precious materials, just after diamonds, gold or precious stones. It is essentially a leaded glass. According to an European guidance you can call a crystal, only glass which contains at least 24% of lead. Many manufacturers or retailers call fine glass a crystal even though it has less than 24% lead. However, the truth is that any glass that contains over 10% lead but less than 24% should be called a crystal glass or fine glass. If you therefore, intend to buy crystal ware check on the packaging whether and how much lead it contains.

Q: Why is it important for a crystal to have 24% of lead or over?

If a customer is interested in buying lead crystal, and not lead-free glass, which is really a matter of personal preferences, the 24% of lead in crystal is the optimum percentage for weight, durability and clarity. There are still factories who do 30% lead crystal and this type of product is called full lead crystal. Lead content makes the crystal dense, providing a much higher index of light refraction than normal glass, and consequently much greater sparkle, exceptional colour and brilliance.

Q: What is a lead free crystal and does something like this exists?

Well, as I mentioned above the only glass that can be called crystal is if it contains 24% or over. If a crystal is called lead free it means that it simply should not be called so. It should be called crystal glass. This is governed by the EU directive which states which type of glass is and can be called crystal.
A so-called “lead free crystal” is essentially fine crystal glass without the lead content. On this occasion lead is substituted with another ingredient for instance, zinc, barium and potassium to allow the piece being heavy, transparent and possible to be hand cut or engraved.

Q: Is lead crystal more luxurious than lead free?

The lack of lead does not mean that the product is less luxurious – It is a matter of personal choice.
We need to remember that luxurious product is a make of craftsmanship. In one of my previous posts I was investigating what is a luxurious product and contemplating on the exhibition I had seen in V&A “ What is luxury”. I stated that during this exhibition one of examples of luxurious product was a set of six engraved crystal glasses. The value of each was justified by a number of dots engraved. This was a reference to the time, precision and craftsmanship devoted to engrave each one on a thin crystal glass. The maker of fine glassware commits himself to refining skills, inventing techniques, challenging conventions and creating the unbelievable. Therefore, whether the piece is machine blown or hand blown, hand cut or hand decorated, how many hours craftsmen spend on the production of one piece.

Q: Often on a label we see a crystal is blown, hand cut or pressed? What does this
terminology stand for?

There are different ways of glass blowing. Of course I don’t consider discussing machine blowing or, recently a 3d printing on glass, which is outside the scope of this discussion. On a high production scale a crystal can be machine made by pressing or blowing. This does not involve glass blowing by a craftsman.

Q: Why one crystal glass is more expensive than another?

There are many factors that can justify the price. As I mentioned above, it depends on the amount of craft put into production of each piece. How has the piece been finished, whether it’s been hand cut, hand engraves, whether the colour is in the glass, between two layers of it or hand painted. How well known is the brand. Whether the piece is a designer piece or not. However, it is important to mention that when one crystal piece is significantly cheaper than another usually it was machine made. Also, often the country of origin is the factor behind the price too.
I would recommend, to read about the brand, what are the brand’s values and check if the piece is handmade, hand cut or hand engraved before purchasing crystal.

A short lesson on wine tasting

Posted on by Joanna Maya / Posted in A History Lesson | Leave a comment

Lately I presented you with the perfect type of wine glass and what it should possess to benefit your experience with wine. This week I would love to focus on how to taste wine.

Discovering what the wine world has to offer should be delicious fun. Often in restaurants however, we may feel confused about what to do when the waiter hands us the glass with wine to taste.
A few skills can help you take charge of the wine experience and it definitely does not have to be though using pretentious prose.

KLASIK Red wine small

Klasik Red Wine Crystal Glass, set of 2, 300ml

Wine’s most fundamental qualities can be identified by taking one sense at a time.

Thus, the goal is to isolate and amplify the impact of wine’s sensory experience – colours, scents and flavours – in order to distinguish one wine from another.

The waiter should pour the glass with one third of a wine glass. Hold the glass by the top of its stem – never by the bowl – unless the wine is too cold and you want to warm it with hands (this should not really take place in any good restaurant).

Look at the wine – what colour it has? How deep it is? Is it showing signs of browning with age? The depth of color, gives a clue to the density and saturation of the wine. (Saturation is related with the amount of oxygen in wine)*

* When wine is exposed to excessive amounts of air, some of the alcohol becomes oxidized. The colour of the wine becomes deeper, and the wine takes on a sherry-like characteristic. Although prized in sherry wines, these oxidized smells and flavours are considered major flaws in table wines.

Swirl the wine in the glass – making a swirl is important to smell the wine better. Swirling increases the wine’s surface area, which in turn boosts its rate of evaporation and aromatic intensity.
*Notice if the wine forms “legs” or “tears” that run down the sides of the glass. Wines that have strong legs are wines with more alcohol and glycerin content, which generally indicates that they are bigger, riper, more mouth-filling and dense than those that do not.

Sniff the wine deeply – smells is the main sense used in wine tasting so sniffing wine before tasting is an essential step. Dip your nose in to the glass and take two to three sniffs. Try to interpret the aroma, how intense the smell is? Can you smell fruits, herbs, vegetable, spices or perhaps an oak barrel?

Sip the wine – take a slightly larger sip than usual. Instead of swallowing immediately, take 3-5 seconds, letting it coat your tongue, cheeks and palate.

Swish it around – by swishing it like a mouthwash, you dramatically intensify the sensory perception of taste, smell. Well. I ma not sure if you would like to do this in the restaurant as this is clearly a step for a serious aficionados.

Savour – wine taste does not disappear after your taste it – its aftertaste for a minute or more allowing you to think about it and make your judgement.
Aside from simply identifying flavors, you are also using your taste buds to determine if the wine is balanced, harmonious, complex, evolved, and complete.

Well, some of you may ask if mere drinking wine is worth the trouble of trying to explore it. I would say that playing with wine and trying to asses and judge it is a fun exercise – it’s like with whiskey or food tasting – the more you passionate about life the more you want to explore and learn about it…

If you wish to explore wine tasting in detail, here’s what I came across during my research which I found very informative and fun to read.

In the meantime, from today until next week I would love to feed you with some interesting tips and facts about the wine on our social networks including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+. I will be delighted to welcome you there.

The considered design of whisky glasses

Posted on by Joanna Maya / Posted in Crystal & Glass | Leave a comment

As a woman, I find it challenging to befriend whisky. Not saying that women cannot enjoy it. I know many who do but still I know there are fewer than men. Although, my husband is passionate about this dram, I tend to leave the sniffing and tasting to the New Year’s Eve while I am in Scotland. After all, this drinking business is meant to be fun. So, I keep this moment only for very special occasions.
Icebreaker whisky tumblers

 

Icebreaker whiskey tumblers by Iskos & Berlin


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The origin of champagne – is French champagne the best?

Posted on by Joanna Maya / Posted in A History Lesson, Champagne Love Affair | Leave a comment

It is traditionally considered that sparkling wine was invented by the French Benedictine monk and cellar master, Dom Pierre Perignon in Champagne around 1697. Controversially, however, the English winemakers including Ridgeview claim that a Gloucester doctor, called Christopher Merret, recorded a recipe for a Champagne-style drink some 20 years before Dom Perignon.

Gurasu Champagne Flutes and Decanters

Is the French champagne the best?


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The three glasses for champagne

Posted on by Joanna Maya / Posted in Champagne Love Affair, Crystal & Glass | Leave a comment

I firmly believe that glassware plays a big role in the experience of a drink. Many times I’ve been to a new restaurant – an exciting culinary concept or much talked about summer pop up – and ordered a drink that made my taste buds tingle in anticipation, only to find it served in a tumbler. Or a jam jar. As if it were marmalade.

When it comes to champagne, the glass is even more crucial, not just in terms of aesthetics but the effect on the wine too. It’s important to understand the different options, whether you’re a French champagne nut or exploring the exciting new breed of British sparkling wines like those from the Nyetimber estate in Sussex.

Of course, now that Wimbledon has arrived, there is even more cause to seek out the perfect glass from which to enjoy a crisp mouthful in the sunshine and, hopefully, toast another British victory. So, what are the options?

Birds of Paradise Crystal Champagne Flutes

Birds of Paradise Crystal Champagne Flutes, set of 6

 

Champagne flute


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Special and unique crystal glass is a gift to treasure for your dad.

Posted on by Joanna Maya / Posted in Crystal & Glass | Leave a comment

A unique, handmade and luxurious crystal glass is a lifelong gift. It tells your dad that every time he pours himself a drink, whether it’s a fine whiskey or brandy, fills the carafe or serves his favourite chocolate brownies on his serving dish, that his kids thought enough of him to give him something beautiful and right up his taste.

Your Dad might be box-sized and shaped, he might fulfill the stereotype in everyone else’s eyes, but you know better. You know that he is as far from fitting into the box as you are. I would recommend buying him something which shows his individuality and we will pop it into a box for you! I selected for you our bestselling and favourite glasses of our clients as well as my favourite which are far from being ordinary crystal.

The studio Iskos & Berlin combined aesthetics of a traditional cut tumbler with a modernized twist resulting with the winning contemporary finish.

The bestselling design is from Bomma called Icebreaker.

Icebreaker whisky tumblers

 

Icebreaker whiskey tumblers by Iskos & Berlin


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A cocktail glass perfect for enjoying The Ascot Meeting 2015 in glamour

Posted on by Joanna Maya / Posted in A History Lesson, My Favourite Cocktails | Leave a comment

With racing season underway The Royal Meeting is the event under my investigation this week

Royal Ascot has it all! Having been the world’s most famous race meeting, it was founded in 1711 by Queen Anne. Although the traditional name is Royal Ascot you should really call it “The Royal Meeting”.

Ascot cocktail glass

A cocktail glass perfect for enjoying The Ascot Meeting 2015 in glamour 


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The Royal Tea with crystal champagne glasses

Posted on by Joanna Maya / Posted in A History Lesson, Champagne Love Affair, Crystal & Glass | Leave a comment

There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.

Henry James

Few things are more decadent than settling down about 4pm to a meal dedicated to indulgence. That is the Royal Afternoon Tea.

Gurasu Champagne Flutes Abbey Hotel in Bath

Gurasu Fluorescence Champagne Flutes

Yes, we all have heard about a creamy teas and afternoon teas. The ‘Royal Tea’ is a less widely used term signifying the addition of a glass of champagne to a traditional Afternoon Tea.


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What is luxury for me?

Posted on by Joanna Maya / Posted in Design Inspiration | Leave a comment

The idea for my topic, without doubt, was inspired by the recent curator’s talk of the new exhibition in V&A museum “What is Luxury”. I was looking forward for almost two months for its release as my passion for craftsmanship and luxuries products has always been unquestionable in my mind.

The exhibition investigated the luxury at the deeper context of this world. Far from superficial shopping plazas which are more hyperbolic, market – driven it asks a visitors questions about the emotions about emotions and passions that make us human.

Luxury afternoon champagne

What is a luxury does not possess a straightforward answer. It is a relative concept for most of us.
I was amazed by the selection of pieces during a journey through the exhibition’s themes and concepts including opulence and exclusivity, pleasure and preciousness, precision and expertise, innovation and rarity, authenticity and inauthenticity.


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Rhubarb Mojitos – the cocktail of distinction for your extravagant garden party

Posted on by Joanna Maya / Posted in A History Lesson, My Favourite Cocktails | Leave a comment

Mixing cocktails has become one of my favourite creative outlets as of recent years, so I couldn’t resist using some seasonal beauties as an inspiration for my cocktail of tonight.

Rhubarb Mojito

Rhubarb Cocktail Tonight

You may or may not know that May is the season of Rhubarb which is one of my favourite ingredients for pies and juices and so and they call for a celebration! Why not to take advantage of what English spring has to offer and apply to my ever favourite mojito.

Cocktail History
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