What Is Mercury Glass? An Explainer

photo of mercury glass decoration

What is mercury glass? In this blog post, we will seek to provide more insight as to what all of the hype is about. Mercury glass, also known as silvered glass, is an ancient form of art that has been around for centuries, but the craft of creating these silvery, shimmering objects isn’t just reserved for experienced artisans. Anyone with an eye for style and a bit of creativity can make their own mercury glass pieces at home! It is a type of double-walled glass that has a silvering solution applied between its layers, creating a beautiful reflective surface that appears like liquid silver. It has been called “poor man’s silver”

History of Mercury Glass

The process of creating mercury glass dates back to the 1800s when it was first used as a cheaper alternative to solid silver. To create the effect, glassblowers would blow molten glass into a mold and then apply a solution made of silver nitrate and other chemicals to the interior of the glass. This solution would then react with the glass to create a reflective surface that mimicked the look of real silver. Today, mercury glass is still popular for its unique and beautiful appearance, which can range from a shiny, reflective finish to a more matte, antiqued look.

Types of Mercury Glass Available

Today, there are two main types of mercury glass available- mirrored and antiqued.


Mirrored mercury glass is a type of mercury glass that has an even more reflective finish, resembling a mirror. It is achieved by applying a thin layer of metallic backing to the glass surface, which creates a highly reflective surface that bounces light around the room, adding depth and dimension to any space. This type of mercury glass is often used in decorative accents like tabletops, mirrors, and wall art to add an eye-catching element to any decor style. The mirrored mercury glass can make a statement in any room, especially when paired with other metallic finishes, such as gold or silver, to create a cohesive look. Whether you choose to use it sparingly or to make a bold statement, mirrored mercury glass is an excellent choice for those looking to add a touch of glamour and shine to their home decor.


Antiqued mercury glass is another popular type of mercury glass that has a vintage and weathered appearance. It is achieved by adding a layer of patina or aging solution to the reflective surface, giving it a worn and aged look. Antiqued mercury glass can come in a variety of colors, including smoky gray, bronze, and copper, giving it a beautiful and rich hue. It is a great option for those antique enthusiasts who want to add a touch of history and character to their home decor. Antiqued mercury glass is often used in decorative accents such as candle holders, vases, and picture frames, as well as lighting fixtures to create a warm and inviting ambiance. The antique finish pairs well with other vintage-inspired decor items and can add a touch of rustic elegance to any space. Whether you want to add a unique touch to your home or create a cozy and inviting atmosphere, antiqued mercury glass is a beautiful and versatile option to consider.

Tips on How to Decorate with Mercury Glass

It is commonly used in home decor, particularly for decorative items like vases, candle holders, and ornaments (both on and off the Christmas tree). Mercury glass can also be found in lighting fixtures, creating a warm and inviting glow when illuminated. One of the best things about mercury glass is that it can be paired with a wide range of decor styles, from traditional to modern. Its reflective quality makes it an excellent choice for brightening up darker spaces, while its unique appearance can add texture and interest to any room.

When using mercury glass in your home decor, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, be sure to handle it gently as it can be fragile. Also, consider pairing it with other materials like wood, stone, or ceramics to add contrast and balance to your decor. Finally, mercury glass looks particularly stunning when paired with other metallic finishes like gold or brass.

How To Clean Mercury Glass

Cleaning mercury glass can be a bit tricky—the reflective surface can easily become smudged or scratched. To clean mercury glass, start by using a dry microfiber cloth to gently wipe away any dust or debris from the surface. If this doesn’t do the trick, use a slightly damp cloth wetted with glass cleaner and some mild soap to remove any stubborn dirt or grime. Be sure to use gentle, circular motions when wiping the surface to avoid creating any scratches. Once you have wiped away any dirt or residue, dry the surface with a clean cloth and your mercury glass should be good as new!

Is mercury glass valuable?

Although mercury glass is not generally considered a valuable antique, it can be quite expensive depending on the age and condition of the piece. High-quality vintage pieces have an intricate design and feature detailed etching or engraving, which adds to their value. Additionally, many people find antique mercury glass to be aesthetically pleasing and highly desirable—these pieces can command a premium price in the right market. Generally speaking, however, it is not considered to have much intrinsic value and should mostly be enjoyed for its beauty and uniqueness.

Is mercury glass harmful?

Mercury glass is not considered a health hazard, though it’s important to take necessary precautions when handling the glass. As with any antique object, wear gloves and use caution when handling mercury glass as some pieces may be brittle or otherwise fragile. Additionally, avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasives on the surface of the glass as this can damage the surface. With proper handling and care, mercury glass can be enjoyed safely in your home for many years to come.


In conclusion, mercury glass is a versatile and beautiful material that can add a touch of glamour and sophistication to any home decor. Whether you choose to use it in a decorative item or lighting fixture, its unique reflective quality is sure to create a warm and inviting ambiance in your home.