Crystal, along with China and fine silver, has long since been a wonderful heirloom treasure. Likely the collections & pieces were made heirloom-worthy due to their memorable givings at such landmark events as weddings and anniversaries.
I have mixed emotions on matchy-match collections. While there is certainly something to be said for folks who have the patience and breadth to collect each and every piece that their fine crystal brand manufactures, I am much more of the mindset that collections should have a common element but be flexible to accommodate three very key points: 1) uniqueness of each object 2) personal meaning 3) adventure!
So lets take crystal. It is simple gorgeous, there is no denying it. Its finely cut edges simply sparkle in the light. It can make punch a delicacy and turn a dish of butter mints into a handful of pure joy. So instead of sticking to one collection of the same pattern of crystal, consider mixing & matching to hit the three points.
First, uniqueness of each object. With many different cuts, makers and patterns each piece is able to sparkle and shine in its own light and stand out in all its glory. Besides, there are very few patterns in the world where the cakestand is just as pretty as the candlesticks.
Second, personal meaning is a big one. When your collection includes new and old pieces, you're able to include the heirloom pieces without them seeming out of place. And heirloom pieces from all sides of the family at that - wouldn't want to not use Nana's crystal bowl simply because it didn't match your Waterford wedding pattern. No no no!
Lastly, adventure is a big one! It's your collection and you should enjoy the hunt as much as you enjoy using the pieces themselves. Searching for the perfect missing piece in your collection becomes an on-going process, giving you reason to stop in at that roadside Antiques store or making a thoughtful selection next time Grandma wants you to go ahead and choose just one thing from her collection to use for yourself.
Long-way-around. There is nothing finer than crystal, in all its dazzling glory. My collection began with a tiny crystal piece from Grandma in my stocking each year. A salt cellar, a bud vase, and years of joy making my heirloom collection complete!