Since 1783, when George and William Penrose founded the Waterford Glass House, Waterford Crystal has gained eminence in manufacturing first-quality, highly desirable and beautiful, distinctive crystal stemware and other items. Although each authentic piece bears its unique finishing touch – the Waterford Crystal mark – its final finishing touches determine whether the crystal will remain treasured heirlooms for future generations.

Waterford Crystal History

Waterford Crystal history stems from a centuries-old tradition of fine handwork of glass artisans searching for perfection in creating heirloom crystal.

Glass making in Ireland has a rich, enduring history reaching so far back in time that accurate records do not reach that far. Archaeological research has shown that glass was highly regarded in early times. Exciting medieval documents show that glass making in Ireland extends back into at least the mid-13th century A.D.

Historic Waterford Crystal Factory: The Penrose Brothers Put Waterford, Ireland on the Map

Waterford Crystal has its origin in this tradition, no doubt, but its place on the map began in 1783 when brothers George and William Penrose founded a crystal manufacturing business in Waterford, Ireland, a thriving port city at the time. The Penrose brothers became Waterford’s leading exporter. With 50-70 employees, led by John Hill, a Quaker from Stourbridge in England, Waterford’s first factories produced crystal with a “purity of color unmatched in Ireland or England.” Although this initial company failed after almost 100 years because of excessive taxation and lack of capital, its reputation survived and made its way into subsequent centuries

Waterford Crystal History: Artisans Continue Elegant Glass Design Following World War II

In 1947, just after World War II, a small glass factory set up shop just a scant mile or two from the original Waterford glass factory. Just as did its predecessor, Waterford Crystal prides itself upon purity of color, inspirational design and the pursuit of the highest quality levels possible in glass manufacturing. The company used traditional cutting patterns of the original artisans of Waterford as the basis for evolving crystal patterns and designs.

Waterford Figures Prominently In Crystal Stemware Designs

Waterford Crystal pattern names offer a glimpse into a glassmaking company steeped in history, tradition and the search for perfection in crystal art design. Araglin, Kelsey, Charlemont, Clarendon, Cardiffe, Lismore, Lucerne, Westhampton: These crystal stemware patterns evoke associates in people the world over who associate historic places and times with a rich and glorious culture. Family members pass down Waterford Crystal heirlooms from generation to generation. New owners of Waterford experience pride in family heritage and comfort in knowing that Waterford stemware patterns are accessible and never truly discontinued. Skilled craftsmen refer to vintage patterns and recreate even the most intricate of heritage crystal designs.

The Waterford Brand Carries Quality Design Into Other Product Lines

Waterford has extended its brand beyond its core crystal lines. In addition to Waterford Crystal Lamps, Its brand includes Waterford China, Waterford Table and Bed Linens, Waterford Stainless Flatware and Silver Gifts, Waterford Writing Instruments, Waterford Holiday Heirlooms and Waterford Crystal Jewelry.

Waterford remains the leading brand of premium crystal. Its products are still manufactured by hand to the highest standards in design and manufacturing. People the world over regard Waterford Crystal as the best in selection of personal collecting and gift purchases.

Waterford Crystal Care

According to the manufacturer, Waterford Wedgwood, its crystal stemware is extremely fragile, especially the rims. Do not place these pieces upside down on the draining surface or when storing them. Refrain from having them clink together.

Stemware patterns such as Leana, Lismore and Carina have characteristics every bit as delicate as their names. Treat them gently.

When washing stemware, hold the stem by the bowl – never by the stem or foot – as pressure can loosen the stem from the bowl. Long-stemmed crystal goblets are especially vulnerable to this type of breakage.

The Dishwasher: To Use or Not to Use

There’s no question about it. Specific Waterford patterns, such as Lismore Platinum or Charlemont Gold – have decorative accents and trims. These pieces especially should never be washed in a dishwasher. Others have jeweled colors in blue, lilac, lime and red. Handwashing all Waterford is strongly advised to keep colors bright and true. High temperature and abrasive dishwasher detergents will, over time, dull the appearance of even clear crystal and cause Waterford to lose its sparkle.

Cleaning Waterford Crystal Stemware Takes Some Time. But It’s Worth the Effort

Avoid damage caused by clinking pieces together. When clearing a table after use, carry one stem only in each hand to avoid having stems clink together and cause chip damage. Remove any spoons left in the glasses (yes, some folks do leave them there) before transporting.

Carefully wash the Crystal stems piece by piece so that they won’t clink together. Placing a soft rubber mat or towel in the bottom of the sink helps stemware from beating upon the sink’s hard surface..

The Waterford Company recommends using warm water, never hot, with a mild, liquid soap, rinsing immediately in clean water and drying quickly.

Cleaning Waterford Vases and Decanters: A Few Tips to Help Clean Hard-to-Reach Places

With their narrow necks, vases and decanters will take special cleaning. Fill them half-full of warm water with a tiny amount of mild detergent, two tablespoons of white vinegar or ammonia and 1/4 cup of uncooked rice. The vinegar/ammonia will add to the sparkle of the crystal. Rice serves as a safe, non-scratching scrubbing device for those difficult-to-get-to crystal crevices.

Hard Water and Other Stains

For stubborn stains, the manufacturer suggests dropping a denture-cleaning tablet into the crystal piece filled with warm water and allowing it to sit for several minutes until the stain is gone. Crystal should be washed, rinsed and dried immediately afterwards.

Waterford Crystal owners who live in areas where the water leaves a lime deposit should apply white vinegar with a soft cloth. A gentle rub with a clean cloth will remove these mineral deposits. Using a non-fluffy, lint-free cloth to polish crystal after it is clean and dry will help Waterford Crystal maintain its distinctive brilliance.

Fragile Waterford Crystal is Fragile

Waterford should never be exposed to extremes of heat and cold. Before putting warm foods or liquids in a crystal piece, preheat the piece with warm water from the tap. If a stem has just come from a refrigerator, allow it to sit at room temperature until it is no longer cold.

Caring for a Waterford Crystal Chandelier

Just as when cleaning a Waterford lamp, the manufacturer suggests that each piece in a Waterford Crystal chandelier be carefully hand-dusted with a dry, soft cloth. Use a lightly dampened cloth only if needed, being careful not to touch any of the chandelier’s metal surfaces with water. Cover any items beneath the chandelier, or move them if possible, before attempting to clean the lighting fixture.

Chandelier cleaners on the market are not suited for cleaning Waterford chandeliers because their “drip-dry” methods can damage metal parts electrical components of the fixture.