Merry & Bright

The luster of Mercury glass ornaments steals the scene.

Seasons change, fashions change, styles change, and suddenly these Christmas ornaments are gotta-haves. “Mercury glass,” also known as “silvered glass,” is a misnomer; the ornaments feature neither mercury nor silver. The globes in question are clear glass, mold-blown into double-walled shapes, and coated on the inside with a silvering formula, which is inserted through a small hole and sealed with a tiny plug. 

For a time, manufacturers in England did try to line their double-glassed ornaments—in the sparkling jewel tones of ruby, cobalt, amethyst, and emerald—with a mercury solution, but this practice was soon discontinued due to expense and, of course, toxicity. These merry, shimmering, bright Christmas ornaments saw their heyday in the Victorian era, a time of aesthetic exuberance!