Jim O'Leary, Master Cutter and Waterford Crystal Design Director, passed away in June, 2013, at age 69. He spent more than 50 years working for Waterford Crystal, working his way up from a teenage apprentice to become Waterford’s international ambassador and a driving force for both design and quality.
Jim's repertoire of limited and exclusive creations won him legions of fans around the world, particularly with crystal collectors in the United States, Europe and Australia. The Araglin collection, which Jim designed, is second only to Lismore among Waterford Crystal's most famous and successful patterns.
Jim came to the wider attention of the public as the Waterford ambassador for the Times Square Millennium Ball, which was first used to mark the countdown on New Year's Eve 1999 in New York. The Times Square ball has become a vital part of the New York celebrations, and is watched by millions around the world on New Year's Eve.
Significant Jim O’Leary designs include the Carina and Castlemaine patterns, the Romance of Ireland collection and the Star of Peace in 1999, which became the first Waterford Crystal panels to be placed on the famous Millennium Ball in Times Square.
Perhaps Jim's favorite creation, Araglin has been and remains one of Waterford’s best-selling stemware patterns of the last three decades. A classic pattern cut on a tulip-shaped bowl, Araglin has shown remarkable longevity as a timeless Waterford mainstay. Araglin Prestige, introduced three years ago in cobalt, ruby and emerald-cased crystal, created renewed interest among new Waterford fans, inspiring a renaissance for one of Jim’s most sought-after crystal imaginings.
Carina, which means “beloved friend” in Gaelic Irish, is yet another Jim's O’Leary pattern that resonates with both the Waterford faithful and aspiring new households. Carina Essence continues to attract subsequent generations of brides and grooms with its quintessentially stylish upright vertical cuts. In a simple, modern profile, the Carina Collection includes an extensive variety of crystal stemware, giftware, lighting and home décor.
In this giftware collection, Jim combines the well-known Lismore cutting techniques with his own signature fanlight cut to create a completely new design from the best of the Waterford DNA. Graceful scalloped rims echo the arc of the fanlight, O’Leary’s sentimental homage to the Georgian style architecture of Ireland.
Seahorse remains designer Jim O’Leary’s signature pattern and features a complex repeat cutting pattern in an interpretive seahorse motif. The seahorse both the trademark of Waterford Crystal and included in the crest of the city of Waterford Ireland, and as such, held great meaning to designer Jim O’Leary. Exceptional pieces in the Seahorse Collection are hand crafted at the House of Waterford Crystal, the crystal artisan studio in the heart of the Waterford City, Ireland.