The beginnings of glass making in Ireland are lost in the mists of time but there is sufficient archaeological evidence to show that, from the early Iron Age, glass was regarded with respect. Indeed, medieval documents can prove glass making existed in Ireland back in the middle 13th century. However, it was not until the late 1700's when the Waterford saga started to unfold. In 1783, two brothers by the names of George and William Penrose founded their crystal manufacturing business in the busy port of Waterford. These two men became important developers and were soon the city's principle exporters. The Penrose brothers employed close to 70 people from Stourbridge, England. They were successful in producing crystal with a purity of color unmatched in either Ireland or England. Very soon, cargoes of crystal were bound for distant ports like Spain, the West Indies, New York, New England, and Newfoundland.
However, this immediate success was not to last. Less than 100 years later, the initial company went under. Though Waterford Crystal had gained an unsurpassed reputation in a remarkably short time, a lack of capital and excessive taxation saw the company close their doors. It would be another century before they would reopen.
In 1947, while Europe was still in ruins after the second World War, a small glass factory was set up in Waterford just 11/2 miles from the site of the original glass factory. The company grew quickly with a staff of gifted, creative individuals. Waterford Crystal worked hard and rebuilt their former glory piece by piece. With raw talent, beautiful products, a rich heritage, and stubborn determination on their side, the company was destined for success.
Today, Waterford Crystal has very strong links with its illustrious predecessor. They possess the same dedication to the purity of color, to 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. These products have extended the power of the Waterford brand beyond its core crystal products include Waterford China, Waterford Table & Bed Linens, Waterford Stainless Flatware and Silver Gifts, Waterford Writing Instruments, Waterford Holiday Heirlooms and Waterford Crystal Jewellery.
Waterford Crystal is internationally the leading brand of premium crystal. Recent research has confirmed the standing of Waterford Crystal in both the US and the UK. In November 2000, Waterford Crystal was named as the top world class brand in the United States by a survey conducted among 30,000 people. 2007 saw Waterford celebrating their 60th anniversary since the reopening of the company's doors. Waterford Crystal has become almost a synonym for the finest quality crystal sought after by collectors and connoisseurs around the world. Each piece of Waterford can be recognized by the signature on the base with the word "Waterford", the name of the finest crystal in the world.