Crystal production in Waterford began in 1783 when two brothers, George and William Penrose, founded their crystal factory employing 70 people. In a short time they became the city's principle exporters and succeeded in producing crystal with a purity of colour unmatched in Ireland or England. Merchant ships sailed regularly from the port of Waterford with cargoes of crystal bound for Spain, France, the West Indies, New York, New England and Newfoundland.
But less than 100 years later the initial company failed due to lack of capital and excessive taxation. But in what seems a remarkably short time, Waterford Crystal acquired an unequalled reputation that has transcended the intervening centuries.
Another century passed before the enterprise was revived. In 1947, while Europe was still in ruins after the second World War, a small glass factory was set up in Waterford just a few miles from the site of the original glass factory. The Waterford Crystal factory followed the same design inspiration and to the same pursuit of highest quality levels possible. The traditional cutting patterns made famous by the artisans of Waterford became the design basis for the growing product range of the new company.
The brilliance and sparkle of today's Waterford Crystal is emphasised by these designs and further enhanced by the light refracting properties made possible by the unique formula used in blending Waterford's raw materials.
Waterford Crystal chandeliers add unequalled sparkle and light to a myriad of prestigious homes and buildings around the world such as Westminster Abbey, the State Apartments at Dublin Castle, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC, Dublin's National Concert Hall, the Governor's Mansion in Maryland and the Houses of Parliament, Melbourne, Australia.
In recent years Waterford, has successfully combined its wonderful craft heritage with the dynamism and creativity of external talent with collaborations with renowned fashion designers John Rocha, Jasper Conran and more recently Marc Jacobs. In addition, Waterford has worked with world famous Wine Maker Robert Mondavi, to create a range of varietal specific glassware for the wine lover to bring out the flavour of different grapes.
Although manufacture in Ireland has now been almost completely outsourced to factories in mainland Europe the brand is safe and secure in the new company Waterford Wedgwood Royal Doulton Group PLC (WWRD). There have been some discontinuations in the product range but the majority of items are still available and made to the same original specifications.