Generally speaking, to be classified as a glass hookah a significant portion of the hookah components, including hookah body is made out of a specific type of glass material. To the extent that all materials are not created equal, the properties of the glass hookah and the cost and quality of the hookah vary greatly depending on the raw material used and the manufacturing process. The cost can range from a few dollars to thousands of dollars. Manufacturing for blow molded glass is high capacity manufacturing process whereas hand blown glass is shaped by hand or with in conjunction with a shaping mold which takes a considerable time and skill.
Soft blow molded glass is the least expensive as it is easier to form in an automated production setting requiring little human interface with the glass during forming. While it generally is adequate for most uses it has its draw backs in terms of durability and precision. Durability in the sense that the glass is not as “hard” as laboratory grade glass because of its low melting point in production and thusly is prone to breakage and thermal shock. Thermal shock is the ability of glass to handle rapid temperature changes without cracking or material deformation. Soft glass is not capable to handle large temperature changes without cracking. One additional property is that chemicals and heat can affect the properties of the glass and can cause it to warp, deform or change its chemical composition.
Hand blown glass hookahs are generally made of crystal and/or borosilicate glass. Both types generally require a mold or forming of the piece or part by human intervention requiring a large degree and the shaping and depend on the skill of the glass blower to achieve a desired result. Borosilicate glass is generally associated with laboratory and chemical industry scientific work due to its superior physical properties. It is the most difficult to work with due the process of forming it with shaping tools due to its low viscosity whilst in the molten state. Once properly formed and annealed, it boasts the physical properties that are most desirable in a glass hookah, heat resistance, scratch resistance, ability to handle thermal shock, and chemical resistance without degradation. Crystal glass is similar to borosilicate glass although its general properties are somewhat less than borosilicate glass by most metrics. It is generally used in areas of the hookah that do not bear the burden of a high heat or the possibility of substantial thermal shock. Crystal is easier to mold, cut and shape as compared to the harder borosilicate glass. It is highly prized for its beauty, clarity and the ability to carve intricate designs and forms into the glass itself.
In summary the higher the quality of the hookah (material and craftsmanship) and the relation to price is dependent on the materials and the time and skill needed to make the finished product. To compare glass hookahs in terms of price is difficult as the production quality, materials and finishing (artwork) varies greatly between brands and has a profound influence on price. As with any product you get what you pay for.
Pay the price only once so you do not have to pay forever. Value is what we get when we pay the price only once.