All About Our Waterford Crystal RangeRobert Leigh
As one of the most respected and collectible crystal glass product brands in the world, Waterford Crystal has a long and eventful history which only adds to the attraction and mystique of the name. Beginning in 1783, expert craftsmen in the Irish city of Waterford began producing luxury glass items with unique characteristics. Since then, Waterford Crystal glasses and other tableware, along with a wide variety of other fine glass products, have become some of the most sought-after items of their type in the world of antiques and fine crafts.
Naming the company after the city from which they originated, rather than after a particular artisan or business leader, was an early masterstroke as it gave the new company an identity which would stand the test of time. While memories of individuals may fade, naming the brand for Ireland’s longest-established city spoke of pride and permanence, and the fact that the factory was situated just minutes from what was then one of Europe’s great seaports could only have enhanced its prospects internationally. Of course, no amount of clever marketing would have compensated for a substandard product, but Waterford Crystal wine glasses and other items have always compared favourably with the finest other brands from around the world. Although the brand was inactive for many decades after financial difficulties forced the company’s closure, the heritage remained and Waterford Crystal was later revived to thrive in its home city once again.
A few years ago, a widely published documentary provided a glimpse into the world of the modern Waterford Crystal company. Weight, softness and clarity were three qualities which distinguished antique Waterford Crystal champagne flutes and other glasses, and it was reported that the current factory had installed computer controlled mixing equipment to create just the right blend of potash, red oxide, sand, and ground glass to continue that tradition. The mixture was melted in a furnace at over 1300 degrees, before master glass blowers would mould Waterford Crystal port glasses, wine glasses, and other products using wooden moulds which were also made in-house.
Possibly the most distinctive single quality of Waterford glasses and tableware is the depth of the decorative cutting. It is the softness of the uniquely formulated glass, together with the thickness of the blowing, which allows Waterford wine glasses to be decorated in such a magnificent way. Glass which is cut using Waterford Crystal patterns will refract light to an extreme degree, and as anyone lucky enough to have their own Waterford Crystal glass collection will know, a dining table laden with such exquisite articles makes for a stunning sight. It takes five years as an apprentice to become a master glass cutter, at the end of which each trainee must cut a specially designed Waterford Crystal decanter which features every type of cut they will be required to perform in the trade, to prove their skill. The new master then keeps this Waterford decanter as proof of their accomplishment.