Collecting French Opaline Glass

Collecting French Opaline Glass is a somewhat boring title for this post that does NOT even come close to how I feel about antique opaline glass, and other antique opaque glass. A better title might have been Obsession for French Opaline Glass. You can’t imagine how excited I have been after purchasing this estate collection of the most beautiful antique blue and white glass recently for the shop. Read on to learn a little bit more so you, too, can fall in love.



Collecting French Opaline Glass




Made in France from the late 18th century through to the end of the 19th century, authentic opaline glass is art glass of the highest quality. This kind of beautiful semi-opaque hand blown glass first became popular in Napoleon’s reign and really reached its height of favor during the time of Napoleon III between 1850-1860. Colors range from white, pink, yellow, and green to my own favorite, robin’s egg blue. Other countries also produced similar glass in jewel like colors, most notably English Bristol glass pieces which were painted with stunning natural scenes.


Collecting French Opaline Glass


The antique French opaline pieces are quite rare, and costly, as you can imagine.  Larger pieces are so coveted, it is almost impossible to get collectors to sell any, so finding larger vases or centerpiece bowls is always a true treat.  Many opaline pieces were made as souvenirs, boxes, sugar caskets, egg boxes for holding jewelry or showing off a gold pocket watch. Others were useful objects of grander size such as covered candy containers, vases, urns, and compotes. But much opaline was created as objet d’art, admired just for their sheer beauty.

Collecting French Opaline Glass

The most collected and admired color of opaline is robin’s egg blue, although lemon yellow is considered the most rare color of all as fewer pieces were produced in that color. Very early antique French opaline such as this rare to find pair of robin’s egg French blue vases with hand painted gold stars are especially sought after by collectors. This pair of vases is special because of their large size, most of the ones like this still in one piece today are 6″ or smaller.


antique early French Opaline




The Portieux Vallerysthal Company produced beautiful opaline glass and has a complex history. Under the patronage of Duke Leopold of Lorraine, Francois Magnien founded the company in 1705 in Vosges, France, close to the raw materials needed to make glass.  Vallerystahl began their glass production in 1836. French and Bohemian glass workers created a stunning array of opaline and decorative glass which was coveted and sold very well. When in 1870 this area of France became part of Germany, the Vallerysthal company purchased Portieux in the late 19th century and formed Portieux Vallerystahl to be able to keep selling their pieces to the French clients as well as their new German market.  They incorporated the new combined company both in France and in Germany, to avoid complications should ownership of the region change countries again.


antique French salt cellars

As with all Vallerysthal Portieux colored glass pieces, the lighter robin’s egg color is almost unique to them. It is an aqua turquoise which was created by using additions of copper oxide to the batch of crystal with varying amounts of other non-metallic elements.


Collecting French Opaline Glass




At first, many of the French opaline pieces were bought as souvenirs during the Grand Tour era. Those are the pieces I love best, if I’m honest. They are so well made, and their classic design style looks just as amazing in a room filled with antiques as in a room filled with modern and contemporary decor.

antique French jewelry box opaline

Opaline was very popular again in the 1920’s – 1960’s and was produced most notably in drinking goblets and table type wares.  Opaline remains pretty rare to find, with the really old French pieces being almost impossible to find. There isn’t much information on the history of opaline or the provenance of the antique pieces, the only two books I’ve ever found are in French.


antique blue glass muffineer


The blue opaline comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. I was thrilled to find everything from small saleron {salt and pepper} all the way up to the most exceptional large blue opaline vases made in the 1800’s with hand painted gold stars.

antique Opaline Decanter


You don’t need to amass a huge collection of opaline to enjoy it at home.  Even a single piece of antique French opaline will make your interior sing….and make you smile each time you see it. One piece is just as gorgeous as a bunch of pieces are. I will warn you though, once you have bought and owned a single stunning blue opaline French perfume bottle and placed it on your vanity or in your bathroom, you may need more!

antique French opaline Perfume

This perfume bottle has a unique top, featuring a painting of a French landmark under glass. Made as a Grand Tour souvenir, these are getting more and more difficult to find. The top flips up, and underneath there is a tiny stopper. So wonderful!


French Opaline Perfume Bottle with Stopper


Collecting French Opaline Glass


  1. As always – buy what you LOVE.
  2. Buy the best quality you can afford. It’s better to add one piece to your home and / or collection of outstanding color and quality than to collect a few smaller and lesser quality pieces. The opaline makes such a statement, even one piece will make your room’s interior pop.
  3. 19th century French Opaline will always be the best investment.
  4. Look for pieces of clear, jewel colors.
  5. Buy pieces without cracks and chips if at all possible.


shop antique opaline







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10 thoughts on “Collecting French Opaline Glass”

  1. I think opaline glass is very beautiful, I didn’t know it also existed in such a gorgeous shade of blue.

    1. Anja, the color of the robin’s egg blue is incredibly beautiful!

  2. This was amazing to read Lidy! I have never heard of Opaline Glass before. It’s so beautiful and your information is wonderful. Thank you so much for sharing this with us!

    Blessings, Edie Marie

  3. Edie Marie, it is truly magical…it glows from within! Hope you are having a beautiful week! xo

  4. Another informative post filled with lovely pieces. I’m thrilled to know about Opaline Glass, Lidy. Thank you!

  5. Stephanie

    These rarities are the most beautiful items I have ever seen. Absolutely gorgeous!

  6. Is opaline the same as Opalex? I have an Opalex Mixing bowl in blue and I am wondering if it’s connected to Opaline as Opalex was made in France too.

    1. Annie, I am not an expert on glass, but while Opaline glass is antique, I believe Opalex glass is more like milk glass and made in the 1950’s and later. Either way, I’m sure that your bowl is a treasure!

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