The geochemistry of glass

Lucie's poster at USTV and GDR Verres

Thanks to EAG Sponsorship, I attended last October the Plenary Days of USTV and GDR Verres (two associations for Research and Technology of Glass) in Baccarat (in the East of France). This meeting brought together private companies and universities to share new results and methods about structure and geochemistry of glass.


It was a good opportunity to present my work to various members of the French glass community. I met researchers from several universities and we discussed about my experimental approach and the closely related issues. At that time, I only showed my first results knowing that I still have a lot of things to sort out and parameters to adjust but it was very interesting and rewarding to get helpful comments. I met a glass-­manufacturer, who was very interested in my work because he had been looking for more information about the solubility of halogens in glass in order to develop glasses with properties of halogens [I am working on the solubility of iodine in glass].

The highlight of this meeting was the visit of the Baccarat Factory, a French luxury crystal glass-­making company, which is celebrating this year its 250th anniversary. We visited all the workshops from glass-­blowing to cutting and engraving including gilding and packaging. It was very impressive to see the glass-­maker, wearing a pair of shorts and a T-­shirt, handle the glass at about 1000°C at the end of a stick! This factory is famous because only crystal glass is shaped and almost everything in the manufacturing process is handmade. Of course the products are very expensive but it was a pleasure of the eyes! The whole history of Baccarat was presented, along with the most famous pieces.


My favourite one is the set of glasses designed for the tsar Nicholas II of Russia. Our guide said that the beginning of the XXth century was the golden age for Baccarat thanks to Nicholas II, especially as it is a Russian custom to throw the glass over one’s shoulder just after drinking! I let you guess the price of each of these glasses…

Engraving details of Baccarat crystal glasses designed for Nicholas II of Russia at the beginning of XXth century

About the author

Lucie Grousset is a second-year PhD student in IPGP (Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris) currently working on the geochemistry of glasses. Her research focuses on iodine and xenon in glasses in order to understand what are the mechanisms of solubility and diffusion specific to these elements.