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The first glass, or Irish crystal, business in Waterford city was founded in 1783 by William and George Penrose. Their flint glass was world renowned. It was creatively called Penrose Glass House.
Waterford Crystal wasn’t called crystal, it was called, simply, glass. Once it was discovered that adding lead to glass produced a more pliable product, crystal was born (about 1676.) Irish crystal is some of the best in the world. Sand, or silica, when heated, produces glass. Typical sand gives glass a green cast. White sand produces perfectly clear, sparkly glass. Ireland contains some of the purest white sand beaches, making it a renowned producer of Irish crystal. Wicklow, particularly, has great sand. Guess what Waterford Crystal is near? Yup, Wicklow.
Crystal can contain up to 33% lead. Waterford Crystal is one of the only places in the world that is highly successful with achieving a full 33% lead content in their Irish crystal.
Adding lead to glass makes glass softer and more pliable. This pliability is what allows Waterford Crystal to carve such intricate, highly acclaimed designs into their glass.
Miroslav Havel, a Czech, came up with Lismore, the first ever Waterford Crystal Design. We’d love to know the value of some of these highly cherished Irish crystal pieces.
For Times Square 2000, the millennium celebration at the Crossroads of the World, the New Year’s Eve Ball was completely redesigned by Waterford Crystal. In recent years there has been a theme etched into the crystal.
If you’re not sure about your heirloom piece, you can hire a Waterford Crystal or Irish crystal appraiser to authenticate the piece. They’ll tell you when it was made and facts about the artisan, all based on the carved design. This is one more reason buying Irish crystal is an excellent idea if you take an Ireland honeymoon.
In 1966, Waterford Crystal chandeliers were installed in the Westminster Abbey, in London, for the 900th anniversary dedication of the church. The Guinness family was convinced to pay for them. Other Waterford Crystal chandeliers hang in Windsor Castle and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
Waterford Crystal also makes trophies. Look for their work at the People’s Choice Awards, French and German Grand Prix Formula One and tennis Master Series tournaments, among others.