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Of Glass and Gold

At Manhattan Gold & Silver, we are pretty lenient about the forms of precious metal we can accept for refining. Unfortunately, there are a few cases where we need to draw the line, one of which is cranberry glass.

Also known as gold ruby glass, cranberry glass has a striking red hue that is achieved by adding gold to molten glass. This type of glass craft has been around for hundreds of years, but was especially popular in 19th century Britain. Around this time, a legend began to spread about the origin of the craft – that it was discovered when a nobleman flipped a gold coin into a molten glass mixture. However, all glassmakers dispute this theory because that “technique” simply doesn’t work.

To make cranberry glass, gold must first be dissolved in a mixture of nitric and hydrochloric acids (an extremely powerful acid known to chemists as aqua regia) before it is added to glass. Cranberry glass requires a high-level technique and expensive ingredients, so it’s almost as rare as the gold that goes into it.

Cranberry glass vases or decanters make for stunning centerpiece displays. Surely, the timeless appeal of this glass explains why it has persisted through the ages.

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