Acid etching, also known as 'French Embossing' is a process invented in the Victorian era. It gives a frosted, etched finish in delicate tones of white and diffused shades and is capable of producing very intricate patterns.

The process was originally used by the Victorians for decorating windows and doors in public houses and bars, where it gave a luxurious and expensive feel to sitting areas. It also afforded privacy as it is not easy to see through acid etched glass.

In a Victorian property the choice of etched glass or leaded lights was made by the developer of the block or street of houses. The entrance way normally indicates the choice and this style will be repeated in suitable windows in the rest of the building.

If the choice was etched glass, the best quality was often reserved for the front door and it's surrounding panels.

In the1860's acid etching and brilliant cutting started to be done on a semi industrial scale for the burgeoning house market. The invention of the large rotating stone wheel for the technique of 'brilliant cut' glass bore fruit in the very elaborate panels mostly seen in pubs. In the late 1870's craftsmen invented means of imitating acid etching more cheaply with sandblasting.

The acid-etching process gives generally better results with the cast/rolled glass being used for bulk and lower-priced work. Double-side etched glass and Mirror are the diffused reflection glass of choice for most bespoke framers, the leading brands being 'Inspiration NG' (Guardian Glass Industries). Single-side etching gives very good quality results for high-end framing but is more expensive to produce.