20 Must-Know Terms for Buying the Perfect Mirror
The first known mirror was made of polished obsidian, and provided just enough of a reflection to check out your caveman hairdo. We’ve come a long way from those days, but our fascination with mirrors has stayed the same. However, finding the right one or knowing what to look for at a flea market is another matter entirely. Prime yourself for purchasing the perfect mirror with this helpful guide. We promise you’ll love your reflection even more once it’s educated.
Antiqued Mirror – Coatings or tints applied to make a mirror look as if it has deteriorated with age.
Baroque Mirrors – A heavily carved and decorative style. Louis XIII and Louis XIV-style are most popular, typically with large pediments, angels, fruit, and flowers in the gilded carvings. If you’re going for the Versailles look, this is what you need.
Bevel – Angled cut on the edge of a mirror, usually done for decorative purposes. A beveled edge on a mirror allows it to reflect more light, and makes it a little sexier.
One Kings Lane Carved Wood Chinese Chippendale Mirror ($1275)
Chippendale Mirrors – Often smaller, more decorative mirrors featuring Gothic or Chinese themes.
Concave - When the glass is curved inward, and then coated, creating enlarged reflections. Most commonly used in small vanity mirrors for grooming.
Convex - When the glass curves outward, creating reduced reflections. Most popularly used in a round Federal-style mirror (or at the corner of a parking garage).
Eglomisé – Decorative painting on the back of glass before it is mirrored. Popularly used during the Rococo era.
Federal Mirrors – Feature Roman motifs, most popularly an eagle or griffon. Round convex mirrors with an eagle crest are an icon of this period.
Georgian Mirrors – A simpler and more architectural design often featuring a broken pediment, side scrolls, and lacy details. Very refined and proper.
Louis Philippe – A French mirror circa 1890 featuring a simple gilded structure with rounded top corners.
Mercury Glass – Originally used as the reflective coating for mirrors (aluminum is most commonly used today), now the term often refers to a faux-antique finish on mirror.
Mirror Mastic - A tar-like compound used to glue mirrors to walls. A must-know term if you’re going for that ‘70s mirrored wall look.
Neo-Classical Mirrors – Feature elements of classical architecture such as pediments, fluted columns, urns, and medallions. If it reminds you of a presidential monument, it’s most likely Neo-Classical.
Rococo Mirrors - Known for carvings or “gadrooning” that’s heavily gilded. Often more asymmetrical and curvy, featuring fancy leaves, flowers, birds, and ribbons in the carvings.
Trumeau Mirrors – Designed to hang between windows for extra light, often depicting a scene of some kind in the area above the mirror.
Ultra-Clear Mirror – Made with glass of a reduced iron content so the glass doesn’t have a slight green tinge, as is common in standard mirrored glass. Best when used in all-white interiors, when clarity is a must.
Sunburst Mirrors – Features a frame that radiates outward from the center. Perhaps first seen in Jan van Eyck’s 1434 painting “The Arnolfini Portrait,” but made popular during the midcentury modern period of the 20th century.
Venetian Mirrors – Although Venice was a main hub for mirror production and design of all sorts, this term often defines a mirror with a frame made of cut glass pieces
What’s your favorite kind of mirror? Sound off below.