Bohemian crystal - one of the finest forms of decorative glass!
Bohemian crystal is one of the European forms of decorative glass, but it is produced mainly in the regions of the Czech Republic that were once known as Silesia and Bohemia – hence the name “Bohemian” crystal. The crystal has actually been in production since the 1200s – quite a long time – and there are even special museums dedicated to glass featuring pieces from the 17th century.
The amazing crystal was originally produced in the 1200s, but it only became very popular in the early 1600s when the demand for cut gemstones was very high. In Bohemia there was a number of deposits of natural crystal, and it was very popular for cutting and fashioning into all manner of things.
Chalk glass replaced the natural crystal near the end of the 17th century, and by the 18th century the amazing crystal had become a household name in the rest of Europe – and even in parts of the New World.
While the demand for English lead crystal in the 19th century caused Bohemian glass to become less popular, later on in the century the demand for Bohemian crystal picked up – and it has remained in high demand to this day.
If you are buying Bohemian glass when visiting the Czech Republic, it is important to know what to look for. The Czech crystal has to contain at least 24% lead content – leading it to be named leaded crystal – with the top notch stuff containing more than 30% lead. The real crystal will weigh a lot more than regular glass, and the crystal tends to be much thicker as well.
If you really want to identify the real stuff, hold it up to the light to see the multiple rainbows that are a result of the high lead content multiplying the natural refracting properties of the crystal. The glass is almost as good as Czech crystal, but the crystal is the best of the best.
There will be a lot of options, so take it slow when shopping for crystal items and only buy once you are sure you are getting the best of the best.
The truth is that you can buy Bohemian or Czech crystal pretty much anywhere in Prague, though central Prague is the best place to check. Many people that don’t know where to find the best stuff check in Wenceslas Square and Celetna, but those that really know how to buy the real deal check the websites of Moser or Egermann – or check Moser’s store in Na Příkopě 12, Prague 1.
For those that are interested in finding out more about the amazing Czech crystal, there are crystal tours that can be taken. There is the Martin Tour 70 that visits a glass factory in Nizbor – roughly 45 minutes away from downtown Prague. The Premiant City Tour 10 visits both the Moser and Karlovy Vary factories, while the Premiant City Tour 17 visits a real Bohemian glass factory.
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