Irish Crystal Brands
Ireland’s history with crystal dates back all the way to the 18th century with the establishment of the first crystal factory in 1771 in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. Irish crystal quickly became a popular alternative to the Venetian crystal that was popular at the time and remained a popular export for the country even throughout the potato famine. In the centuries since, Ireland has maintained a reputation for producing crystal that’s world-renowned for its quality. In recent years, crystalware has once again become fashionable with Irish brands now producing contemporary pieces to appeal to modern tastes. If you’re looking to invest in Irish crystal, here are some of the best brands in terms of quality and design.
As one of Ireland’s oldest manufacturers of crystal, Waterford Crystal has a long history of being world-renowned for its quality. Started in 1783 by George and William Penrose, the company quickly became famous for producing fine crystal of a colour and clarity unrivalled by any other company in Ireland and England at the time. Although the original Waterford Crystal company closed in 1851, the current brand shares the same commitment to purity of colour and clarity, using many of the cutting techniques and design not famously associated with Waterford Crystal.
Many of the modern Irish crystal brands were started by master blowers who were once apprentices at Waterford, and the company is still a benchmark of quality and style for crystalware. Waterford Crystal is so highly regarded as one of the best Irish crystal brands that its Lismore pattern is considered the most popular crystal pattern in the world.
Marquis by Waterford:
A sub-brand with a more modern look, to appeal to younger audiences and those wanting something different than the traditional cut crystal look…
Launched in 1991, the Marquis brand was the first in the company’s history deemed outstanding enough to carry the Waterford Crystal name. Designed to appeal to a younger audience, Marquis includes a range of stemware and hollowware pieces with designed with lighter, simpler lines, for a modern finish. A mid-range alternative to Waterford Crystal, Marquis is a great entry point if you’re looking to venture into Irish crystal.
Whilst Marquis brand crystal hand-blown and hand-cut like Waterford Crystal, it carries a less precise cut – reflected in its price.
Part of the Belleek Group since 1993, Galway Crystal was founded in 1967 by a group of local businessmen in Galway. Despite its short history, Galway Crystal can be found in some of the most prestigious homes around the world including Arás an Uachtarain, the White House and the Vatican. Designs for the traditionally crafted crystal take inspiration from the rich heritage of Galway Bay, the surrounding countryside, as well as Irish history and popular Irish folklore.
The youngest of the four most popular Irish crystal brands, Tipperary Crystal dates back to only 1988. Founded by master craftsmen Joe Foley and John Meagher, the company has become well-known for its superb quality and exceptional design. Tipperary Crystal has used a strategy of innovation through design to quickly become a market leader in giftware, combining age-old craft techniques with a distinctly contemporary design for a unique look.