Since its inception centuries ago, crystal giftware has been the epitome in gift giving and showing appreciation to a friend or loved one. The combination of a beautiful crystal set along with a bottle of wine or champagne is a practical and easy gift solution that has withstood the test of time. The brilliance in simplicity has allowed crystal gifts to stand the test of time and remain as popular as ever. Bohemian Crystal and Waterford Crystal have become synonymous with crystal giftware and have established themselves as the two leaders of this time honoured tradition.
The production of Bohemian Crystal began as a result of the abundance of natural resources found in the countryside in Czechoslovakia (formerly known as Bohemia). Bohemian glass cutters discovered potash combined with chalk created a clear colourless glass that was more stable than glass from Italy. It was at that time when the term Bohemian crystal emerged for the first time in history to distinguish its qualities from the glass coming from other places. This unique Czech glass could be cut with a wheel.
Bohemia became the breeding ground of expert craftsmen who artfully worked with crystal. Bohemian crystal became famous for its excellent cut and engraving. They became skilled teachers of glass-making in neighbouring and distant countries. By the middle of the 19th century, a technical glass-making school system was created that encouraged traditional and innovative techniques as well as technical preparation.
In the second half of the 19th century, Bohemia looked to the export trade and mass-produced coloured glass for shipment all over the world. Pairs of vases were produced either in a single colour of opaque glass or in two-colour cased glass. These were decorated in thickly enamelled flower subjects that were painted with great speed. Others were decorated with coloured lithographic prints copying famous paintings. These glass objects were made in huge quantities in large factories and were available by mail order throughout Europe and America. They were not considered fine art but provided inexpensive decorative objects to brighten up ordinary homes reverse glass painting was also a specialty of the Czechs. The image is carefully painted by hand on the back of a pane of glass, using a variety of techniques and materials, after which the painting is mounted in a bevelled wooden frame. Glass artisanship remained at a high level even under the Communists because it was not considered as ideological threat to communism.
This continued standard of excellence has allowed the products to maintain is reputation as a premium in gift ideas for centuries. With the unique characteristics of Bohemian glassware along with generations of experience in glass cutting, each piece has a reputation for creating a lasting impression. The true value of a present is how highly regarded the recipient holds their gift after time. There is no greater example of that then when not in use, Bohemian Crystal almost always finds its way to the centerpiece of any display cabinet and creates a lasting impression.
Czechoslovakia produced many fine glass cutting experts. Few would be as influential to this craft as Charles Bacik. Charles would grow up in the midst of this tradition and learn the secrets to fantastic glass cutting and crystal ware to open numerous factories specializing in this field. However, as his factories were being taken over by the Communists following WW2, he immigrated to Ireland. In 1947, in partnership with a Dublin gift-shop owner, Bernard Fitzpatrick, he started Waterford Glass. In 1950, the company was in financial difficulties and he ceded ownership to the Irish Glass Bottle Company. He continued to work for the company as a manager until 1974 and as a board member until 1984. Under his leadership and direction, Waterford crystal would become one of the undisputed leaders in crystal gift making.
Waterford Crystal designs, manufactures and markets an extensive range of crystal stemware, barware and giftware for distribution throughout the world. In recent years, Waterford has built upon its reputation as a leading source of prestigious tabletop and gift products by expanding into several new businesses. Significant expansions into tabletop and gifts have occurred with the launch of the Marquis by Waterford. This initiative reflects the company’s commitment to creating prestigious products whose classic designs transcend time.
Waterford Crystal today has very strong links with its illustrious predecessor. There is 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.
Waterford Crystal, today, is one of the leaders of premium crystal and create superb handcrafted crystal stemware, giftware and lighting and are designed and manufactured to the highest standards. People who are lucky enough to have experienced Waterford Crystal simply regard it as the best for self and gift purchase.
The question of deciding between Bohemia or Waterford crystal is irrelevant. Both companies have built a reputation based on products that are the results of centuries of craftsmanship and adaptation to new technology and methods to ensure the customer is receiving the very best glassware available, and the consumer simply can’t go wrong when picking either.