In the lush county of Waterford, in the southeast of Ireland, is situated one of the world's most prestigious crystal factories, Waterford Crystal Factory. It is here that the beautiful Waterford Crystal is produced, the crystal pieces blown to just the right thickness for the master engravers to cut their designs. The crystal has a 30 per cent lead content which gives weight to the pieces and increases its light reflection.
In the late 18th century, a crystal factory was first begun in Waterford with the Penrose brothers, who produced items with a reputation throughout Europe for purity and beauty. Their company failed after about 100 years because of excessive taxation. The factory was revived in 1947 as the modern-day Waterford Crystal manufacturing plant. This modern day plant enjoys the same reputation as its predecessor.
The purity of the crystal and the precision and intricacy of the cut make Waterford Crystal desirable and appealing to collectors. Waterford has gladly obliged collectors by creating a variety of patterns and pieces. Crystal stemware, vases, clocks, lamps, chandeliers, bowls, candle holders, rosaries, objets d'art: literally hundreds of items are made under hundreds of patterns. Although some patterns are not actively produced, which can be disconcerting for the collector, Waterford never retires any pattern, and all pieces can be cut to order by the company. This can be quite costly, and it is to the collector's best interest to become aware of the many ways to find low cost sources.
Tours of the manufacturing plant are offered throughout the year, and it is fascinating to watch the glass blowers and the cutters at their jobs. Some of the designs are incredibly complicated and it takes great skill and many years of training to design and cut these patterns. A tour of the Waterford Crystal plant gives a new appreciation of the product.
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Recommended Buy: The Waterford Crystal Clock