A popular gift for weddings and anniversaries is crystal. Collectors and new brides need to know how to care for their treasures, so Swarovski, a creator and producer of crystal from Austria, offers these tips:
* When handling a piece of crystal, always use both hands and support the base of the piece for security.
* Storage or display areas should provide as stable an environment as possible. Avoid extreme heat, cold and light.
* When storing crystal drinking glasses, do not turn them upside down. This prevents chipping. Never stack crystal items one inside the other, and always place items away from the edge of the shelf.
* Gently wash crystal in warm, soapy water. Rinse in clear water and dry with a soft cloth, although air drying is best. White distilled vinegar can be added during the rinsing process to give crystal a spotlessly shiny appearance.
* Persistant stains can be removed by soaking the object in water with a denture tablet.
If your crystal is in need of professional help, contact the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works for a free referral in your area. A directory of their professional members, by location, is available for $20. Call (202) 232-6636.
For collectors of fine crystal, "The Cutting Edge: 200 Years of Crystal," a show featuring the evolution of cut crystal through present-day design, will open Oct. 3 at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington.
@ Improvements in the quality and size of television pictures and the proliferation of videos have kept pace with each other in the past few years, but one area that needed improvement has lagged behind: sound. Even in stereo, the sound for the video of a movie such as "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" is a tiny echo of the theater version. Bose Corp. hopes to remedy that with its new Acoustimass-7 home theater speaker system, a set of three two-part cube speakers and a bass module. The three speakers, which are split in the middle to allow some swivelling, provide right, left and center channel sound. They can be mounted on walls or ceiling or placed on furniture or floor stands. The bass module can be hidden anywhere in the room. Together the units produce high-quality sound that approaches the "surround sound" of a movie theater. The system retails for about $1,000.
Karol V. Menzie Whether its back-to-school containers for the kids -- including lunch sacks, pencil cases and locker organizers -- or book racks, closet organizers and magnetic soap holders for the home, or desk top accessories for the office, the Container Store has every organizational gadget you can think of.
The company has just opened its first store in this area at 8508 Leesburg Pike near Tysons Corner in Virginia.
The Container Store started as the dream of a group of college graduates from Texas who didn't have the capital to start a furniture store, so they tried containers instead. Now, some 14 years later, containers are a hot item.
Other interesting items lining the 92,000-square-foot store include a magnet you can stick into a bar of soap, which in turn can be attached to a handle attached to the shower or bath wall; makeup organizers; laundry bags; toy crates; measuring cups and spoons, and more.
'Information: (703) 883-2122.
Jill L. Kubatko Most people who are interested in home design are also TTC voyeurs, in a way -- never missing an opportunity to check out other people's houses, both for design tips and for the pleasure of indulging in another kind of style. The explosion of home design books, usually big, coffee-table formats with lots of glossy pictures, has been a real boon to those of us who love to look through windows and go on house tours. Among the newer of these books is "Decorating with Mary Gilliatt" (Little, Brown, 1992, $21.95), which has lots of pictures plus the virtue of being a sort of textbook, teaching topics such as "What is Style?" and "The Design Ingredients." There is even a chapter called "Decorating Recipes." Sample: "To make a hallway or foyer as welcoming and striking as possible, you should choose warm colorings and interesting treatments."
There's a section on "Caring for Your Home" and a number of appendices, including "Practical Tips," which has furniture cutouts and two pages of grids to play with room arrangement; suggestions for grouping photographs or mirrors; instructions on how to measure windows and figure yardage for upholstery; and list of suppliers. Though it's entertaining and informative on its own, the book is designed to accompany a public television series and a series of videos. Maryland Public Television has no current plans to air the series, but could do so at some future date.
Karol V. Menzie