Updated: November 2017

Best Crystal Stemware

When it comes to elegance in formal dining ware, crystal has long been considered the standard. Nothing completes a fancy place setting like crystal goblets, a crystal decanter, or crystal stemware. Our guide below will walk you through what to look for when buying crystal, where to buy it, and how to save money. We will also look at the biggest names in the industry with information on their products and promotions.

Waterford Crystal

One of the most famous makers of crystal is Waterford. Waterford, Ireland was the original home of fine crystal glassware in the late 18th century. The company is now part of Waterford Wedgwood (makers of the famous china), continuing to produce world class products. One nice thing about Waterford is that they never discontinue a stemware pattern - if you buy a set now and break a goblet 12 years from now, you will be able to pick up a replacement piece any time in the future should you need one. When you are investing a lot of money in fine crystal, this is a nice feature. Amazon has an entire online store dedicated to Waterford Crystal - they stock and ship all kinds of glassware, crystal giftware, seasonal glassware, and more. You can also visit the official site at Waterford.com to see their whole line of crystal products - barware and stemware, bowls and centerpieces, vases, collectibles (crystal shaped objects and statuettes), frames, clocks, candles and chandeliers, table accessories, flatware, and more. The Waterford Crystal barware and stemware is the most famous, of course. The Caprice family of flutes and glasses run about $25 per piece, while the Lismore Nouveau line is nearly $60 per piece.
Especially popular are the pairs of wedding champagne flutes, like the John Rocha Black Cut Champagne Flutes at $160 per pair, or the Wedding Heirloom Flutes at $150 per pair -- these make great, tasteful wedding or anniversary gifts for friends or family. If you are into martinis, impress your neighbors with these Waterford Presage Martini glasses at $75 each, decorated with deep olive cuts, they are handsome and functional. Some of our favorite crystal gift ideas on their site were the vases. The Lismore Diamond vases run from $80-$250 and have an elegant, solid look to them. The Balmoral Bud Vase is a delicate piece for holding a single rose - simple and beautiful at $125. Waterford even has some very modern looking colored crystal vases - you'll find them all on their website.

Swarovski Crystal

The other big name in crystal is Swarovski, producing top quality products out of Switzerland. Swarovski dates to the late 1800s, founded by another Bohemian by the same name in Austria. Swarovski makes more fine art type objects, and is not in the glassware/stemware business. For example, how about a Swarovski Luna bowl for $1100, with a cherry base and a massive faceted crystal ring around the top? Or a $300 paperweight? They also make crystal jewelry, figurines and collectibles, even handbags and fashion accessories. Swarovski.com is their main company website where you can browse and shop. A whole collection of Swarovski Crystal objects is here (including Swarovski jewelry, beads, prisms, etc.).

Crystal Websites

Another good site for browsing and buying crystal is Crystal-Co.com. They carry Riedel and Waterford products, and they offer 20% off Waterford Crystal (during sales promotions) and free shipping on all orders over $75. The Riedel product line of glassware carries an equally famous pedigree, going back over 300 years to northern Bohemia, where Johann Christoph Riedel started the business that has remained in the family over 11 generations. They started making glass for window panes, but quickly moved into more expensive goods like fine glassware and chandeliers. The move to long stemmed wine glasses occured during the last 100 years, with their wine glasses becoming so famous, even museum put them on display! Anyways, they carry the new Riedel O wine tumblers, basically wine glasses without the stems. A pair of nice cabernet glasses is $28, and the O decanter is $150.

Caring for Crystal

How to take care of crystal? This is a common questions for people when they first get stemware or glasses. Crystal, although heavy, is delicate and needs to be handled with care. All crystal should be hand washed in warm-to-hot water with mild detergent and a little ammonia if you want to avoid spots and streaks, then rinsed in clean water, then left to air dry. You can put crystal into the dishwasher on a china/crystal setting, but it is not recommended as the brilliance can fade over time. Also, make sure pieces do not touch during the wash cycle, and use half the normal amount of detergent to keep the wash cycle as mild as possible. When it comes to drying, TURN OFF the hot air dry feature, as crystal should not be exposed to extremes in temperature, hot or cold. Never use abrasive scrubbers or cleaning agents on crystal.