For over 200 years, we’ve been harnessing Ireland’s powerful elements to produce hand-crafted luxury crystal, discover more about the history and heritage of Waterford today.
Though the exact details of Ireland’s glass-making traditions are lost in the mists of time, there is sufficient archaeological evidence that shows glass was regarded with respect from as early as the Iron Age, around 500 BC, along with medieval documents also proving that glass-making took place in Ireland back in the middle 13th century. What happened between these dates may be a mystery, but what is clear is that the Irish have an innate affinity for glass-making that spans millennia.
At Waterford Crystal, we’re honoured to hold such an illustrious and pivotal role in this artisanal tapestry - one which propelled primitive glass-making processes into luxury crystal manufacture.
Waterford Crystal was first established in 1783 on land adjacent to Merchants' Quay in the heart of the Irish harbour town of Waterford, just minutes from the present-day House of Waterford Crystal. Its founders were brothers George and William Penrose, important developers and principal exporters in the city. Their vision was to "create the finest quality crystal for drinking vessels and objects of beauty for the home." More than two hundred years later, the reputation they established for creating luxury crystal of unsurpassed beauty and quality has transcended the intervening centuries.
First Glass Making Factory
The Penrose brothers opened the first glassmaking factory in Waterford in 1783, where their crystal was immediately recognized for its clarity and purity of colour. They enjoyed success well into the 1800s. However, in 1853 after 70 years of operating, the Penrose brothers' glass making factory fell victim to a turn of events that echo today’s business woes and was sadly forced to close.
Post World War II Resurgence
After almost a century of dormancy, the Waterford story resumes in 1947, when glassmaker Kael Bacik hired fellow Czech Miroslav Havel as Chief Designer for his fledgling glassmaking operation in Ireland. Havel spent many hours at the National Museum of Ireland studying surviving examples of the Penrose brothers’ crystal from the 18th and 19th centuries. The traditional cutting patterns made famous by the artisans of Waterford became the design basis for the growing product range of the new company, and it is from these designs in 1952 that Havel created the now iconic Lismore - the world’s best-selling crystal pattern.
Today, we maintain very strong links with our renowned predecessors, striving for the same purity of colour, design inspiration and highest quality levels. These core values have been carried over and maintained from the company’s earliest beginnings and are what position us at the pinnacle of luxury crystal manufacture.
A Vast Portfolio
Since our humble beginnings, we have expanded our offerings beyond traditional stemware and classic interior pieces to embrace and complete the luxury lifestyle experience. Today our range of luxury crystal pieces includes: Stemware and Barware, Fine China & Flatware, Vases, Bowls & Centrepieces, Collectibles, Lighting, Chandeliers, Paperweights, Holiday Ornaments and Gifts.
Forming collaborations and partnerships with leading designers in the world of fashion and luxury living has elevated our products to an unrivalled level of excellence and sophistication, creating a unique range of dining and home décor originals. Our current collaboration with Jeff Leatham, a true master of his craft, with a magical touch that revolutionizes how people think about and visualize flowers.
In the Heart of Waterford City
The ideas, inspirations and unrivalled craftsmanship behind our magnificent trophies, sculptures and presentation pieces are realized within the esteemed House of Waterford Crystal in the heart of Waterford. Under the guidance of Chief Designer John Connolly and the legacy of the late Jim O'Leary, our world-famous Master Craftsmen create iconic crystal marvels, such as the PGA Tour of America trophy, the People’s Choice Award, and the intricate panels of the Waterford Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball.