Glass Awards - What are they actually made of?

We often get questions about the different types of material that our corporate awards and plaques are made from.  What is Jade glass, what is Crystal glass, which is better, which is more durable?  Let's try to clear up the confusion over glass awards and discover why there are different materials for different awards.

What is the difference between Clear Glass, Jade Glass and Crystal Glass (and optical crystal glass)?

Engraved Corporate Awards

Clear glass: First and foremost, clear glass is just standard glass, made from ordinary sand, or silica, (SiO2 - Silicon Dioxide) with a few basic additives.  In the manufacturing process, the sand is heated to almost 2000°C, above the melting point of 1,710°C, where the molecules can move freely and be molded or reshaped.  Next, other ingredients are added.  Sodium carbonate Na2CO3 is added to lower the melting point to circa 1000°C to make it more manageable for longer and less costly to make.

After this, Calcium Carbonate (Lime) is added to increase the hardness and durability of the material to give it its useful properties.  Silica actually makes the glass water-soluble - Lime reverses this which is important because, well a water-soluble glass would be little use to anyone.

And that's it for Clear Glass (other names are Commercial Glass and Soda-lime Glass)

Jade Glass: Jade glass is known for its greenish tint, hence its name.  With Jade glass we take that sode-lime glass and add extra ingredients to the manufacturing process. Iron Oxide is added to give the material a higher durability to help prevent scratches making it a great option for trophies that will be frequently handled.  It is also what gives it the familiar green-blue hue. Jade glass has a more subtle, understated appearance than clear or crystal glass, but it can still be customized with engraving.

Crystal Glass: As with Jade glass, the manufacturing process differs from Clear glass with the addition of an extra ingredient.  Lead-oxide(PbO) is added to the mixture.  This serves 2 main purposes.  The first is durability; certain amounts of lead will give the glass more durability so the glass should be stretch-resistant.  The second more important property Lead-Oxide adds is a high refractive index, meaning light will shine through it with a high brilliance, giving the effect of crystal clarity.  The edges will also refract light at different angles and give a prism effect where different wavelength colours can sometimes be seen. In short, Lead-Oxide makes Crystal Glass desirable and valued, satisfying an award's purpose.

Optical Crystal is an almost pure form of glass, with no additives.  It is known for its clarity and purity, and it has a similar finish to lead based crystal glass but it is clearer.  It is however more expensive and not as common for trophy awards.  It is most useful in optics and lenses due to its clarity and durability.

Note: One recent change is the move to a slightly different mixture of additives for crystal glass. Lead poses health risks (although not when added to glass - this is completely safe as the element is locked away chemically) and so some manufacturers are opting for reduced lead or lead free crystal glass, instead using Zinc oxide, barium oxide or potassium oxide which gives very similar results.

Crystal Glass Awards Engraved with Logo and Text

Why choose Crystal Glass Awards?

As we have discovered, crystal glass is the premium glass of choice for awards.  It is more expensive due to the extra processing involved in the manufacturing process, but with that comes a higher density material, so it is heavier and gives a premium feel.  It also has that high brilliance and sparkle that is sought after in glass, the clarity of the glass and high refractive index (especially once we have engraved and decorated it) makes it highly-prized.  Perfect for giving as an award or gift.

Engraved Jade Glass Trophies

Why choose Jade Glass Awards?

Jade glass is a great cost option for awards.  Not as expensive as Crystal, but still elegant.  It has that distinctive subtle hue to it, and can be engraved cleanly.  It is very hard and scratch-resistant, giving the perfect properties for an award that will be handled frequently.  It is still an attractive material and is a great choice for bulk ordering where you need a lot of awards.

Why choose Clear Glass Awards?

Glass awards are another great option in most instances due to cost.  It is a cost effective award that works well for all occasions.  Remember not every award needs to be an expensive premium award.  It is simply a token of appreciation that is always well received.  This glass is very versatile and easy to work with, so it can be molded and shaped into many unusual designs.  It is a durable, lightweight material that works great for awards.  Just a note that both our Clear Glass and Jade glass Awards are categorised together on site to make it easier to browse our products.  We don't have a separate Jade glass category.

Employee Long Service Award

What works best for employee leaving gifts?

That depends on your budget.  Employee leaving gifts are generally one off orders for valued members of staff that have given a lot to the company.  Therefore if you can stretch to it, a premium crystal award is the better option due to its higher value and greater beauty.

That's not to say clear glass or jade glass is not an option for leaving gifts.  These are just as well received and if you prefer a specific jade glass award, then go for it.  There's no wrong choice.


What works best for bulk corporate awards?

This one is a difficult question to answer.  A number of factors will come into play.  The main one being budget.  If you have a budget, work within it while stretching to what you can afford.  After this, it is a design preference.  Clear, Jade and Crystal glass all engrave the same, so find a trophy design you like and stick with it.  Regardless of which option you choose, all types of glass award are well received and appreciated.

Why are there so many types of glass for your corporate awards?

Put simply, we offer a range of awards with different materials to give a good price range, depending on your budget, you may want to go for a more expensive crystal glass option, or you may need something cheaper such as the clear glass awards.

Eco Awards - Bamboo Printed Trophies

What are eco awards?

Eco-friendly awards are just that.  In recent years sustainability has become a hot topic and everyone wants to do their part.  We have chosen Bamboo as a suitable alternative for our corporate awards.  It is a very fast growing grass that allows it to be cultivated and then replaced quickly.  It is completely recyclable and is being used for more and more products like clothing, building materials, and furniture. In our view it is perfect for awards.  It is relatively cheap, can be easily engraved or printed and can be made into many shapes and size awards.  It has a natural finish that is becoming very popular and we're getting a lot of enquiries for this type of award.

Although glass is not technically an eco-friendly award, it is recyclable and therefore much better a material than something like plastic or acrylic for the environment.  

We have another blog on this very topic.  If you want to read more about the sustainability of our glass & wood awards, then jump over to our sustainable awards article here.

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