An elegant set of crystal stemware can be a fine addition to any home, but to say that it can be fragile and difficult to transport would be an understatement. The brittle nature of crystal, combined with the awkward shapes and delicate stems, turns packing crystal stemware for transportation or sale requires some careful thought and planning. Fortunately, there are a vast array of packing types and materials on the packaging market today, including some options suited to the demands of packaging crystal stemware.

Packing materials

Packaging materials should be light and suitable for being densely packed, but they should also have a moderate amount of resistance to pressure and crushing forces. They should also be non-abrasive, as the surface of crystal can be scratched easily and visibly. The following options are all good choices:

  • Polystyrene packing peanuts - The classic packaging choices, packing peanuts are resistant to crushing, and can also be packed within the bowls of your stemware to prevent them from shattering under pressure. However, standard packing peanuts are non-biodegradable and difficult to recycle, so choose biodegradable packing peanuts if you have environmental concerns.
  • Newspaper - Ordinary paper is generally too thick and may scratch crystal, but the thin, soft paper of a newspaper is excellent for both cushioning and wrapping stemware, and can be balled or rolled up to pack awkward nooks and corners. Be aware that your crystal will need a cleaning after transportation if you choose this option, as the newsprint will rub off on the stemware.
  • Bubble wrap - Bubble wrap is very effective for wrapping, and can be tightly wrapped and taped around crystal stems to protect them against snapping. However, you will probably need to supplement bubble wrap with a looser packing material, to fill bowls and voids in your box. Biodegradable bubble wrap is available.
  • Air cushions - Essentially bubble wrap's bugger brother, air cushions provide excellent protection against knocks and crushing, but may be too large and unwieldy to use in smaller packages. Air cushions can be found made from biodegradable materials, but tend to be expensive.

Choosing a box

It goes without saying that a simple packing pouch won't work here, and you'll need a robust box or crate to keep your crystal safe on its journey. Suitable boxes for crystal stemware are as numerous and varied as the stemware itself, but there are a few things you should look out for in a suitable box:

  • Sturdiness - Strong corrugated cardboard should be sufficient to protect crystal transported by a removals company or courier, but if you are sending your crystal via standard postal services you may want want to plump for a small wooden shipping crate or to protect it from the extra knocks it will almost certainly receive.
  • Double boxing - If at all possible, your crystal should be double boxed, with a layer of packing material between the two boxes to provide yet more cushioning. Be aware of any extra delivery charges this may entail due to the increased size and weight.
  • Display cases - If your stemware came with a display case, it may be suited to transportation -- check the softness and cushioning of the lining before you decide. Display cases should still be double boxes, to protect both the stemware and the box itself.

For more packing solutions, talk to a professional.