The name Waterford Crystal is synonymous with extremely beautiful glass articles like stemware, lights, and chandeliers. With the market full of fakes, getting an authentic item may seem like a task. Not so. This DecorDezine article is full of tips to help you lay your hands on authentic Waterford items.
The Waterford Crystal company was temporarily shut down in the year 2009 because of bankruptcy.
Waterford Crystal is an Irish company specializing in glassware. It is more than 200 years old, and was started on October 3, 1783, by George and William Penrose, for producing flint glass. Due to the business acumen of its founders, the company achieved widespread fame within a short time, even earning the admiration of the royals. The company employed skilled craftsmen from Europe. However in 1851, due to overbearing taxes, the owner was forced to shut it down.
It took almost an entire century for the organization to reopen, which it did, in 1947. Charles Bacik, an immigrant from Czechoslovakia, was the new owner. At the time, skilled glass-workers were mostly from Czechoslovakia and Sudetenland, and these were the countries that had been the most affected by the events of the Second World War. Due to the rehabilitation camps that had been set up after the war, workers were in good supply, and it was some of these workers that comprised the new workforce of Waterford. Since then, the company experienced a few takeovers, but its popularity only continued to grow.
Handcrafted Waterford glassware is not available at every nook and corner. Authenticating an item before purchase is obviously very important.
✔ A source of light
✔ A magnifying glass
✔ A Waterford Crystal guide (optional)
First of all, it’s always advisable to buy Waterford Crystal articles from a reputed retailer who vouches for the authenticity of the items. This is the simplest way to reduce any chances of buying a fake article.
Any purchase of a Waterford article should ideally come with a certificate of authenticity. In case of online sales, look for clear photographs and some provision of return.
Check the article under bright light using a magnifying glass for one or more of the following:
Look for the words ‘Penrose Waterford’ at the bottom of the product. Only the original articles made between the years 1783 to 1851 will carry this hallmark, and they are pretty hard to find.
Golden Seahorse Sticker
Look for a golden sticker with a green seahorse in it. It will only be found in those Waterford articles that are made before 1950. Some crystal ware made after that may carry it as well.
Look for an acid-etched ‘Waterford’ mark at the bottom of the article. Items made by the company from 1947 till 1999 will have this mark. Some items like vases, chandeliers, and lights manufactured after the year 1986 will have this mark etched in the grooves and folds of the crystal, since there may not be enough space at the foot of the item.
Waterford with Seahorse
Look for a seahorse logo with ‘Waterford’ written over it and the letter ‘W’ just below. The seahorse should be facing the left. This was started by the company in its year 2000 Millennium Series, and continues to this day. The series included champagne flute glasses, toasting glasses, and champagne buckets.
Look for a name of the artist beside the ‘Waterford’ etching at the bottom. Such signatures are rare and etched only by master craftsmen. Products carrying this signature fetch a high price.
All authentic Waterford items are manufactured from pure crystal. Counterfeiters generally make replicas using glass. The only difference between glass and crystal is, crystal contains the metal lead mixed with it, while glass does not. Compare the article with a glass item of similar size. Here’s how you can decide if the article is made of crystal or glass.
Pure crystal is heavier due to the lead content in it.
Items of glass can be made very thin, whereas crystal items are thicker.
If you tap the edge of a Waterford Crystal article, it will produce a high-pitched musical sound. If glass articles are tapped, a dull ‘thump’ is produced.
Hold the article in light. If it is made of crystal, then a beautiful prism or rainbow of different colors will be formed.
Glass articles will have a greenish or yellowish tinge, but Waterford Crystal will be completely clear with sparkling edges.
Waterford Crystal items are handcrafted with good finishing, which means, its edges will be smooth and rounded without any abnormalities. Several similar glass articles have sharp edges.
Waterford Crystal ware comes in a variety of patterns, like Lismore, Alana, Colleen, Kathleen, and so on. The difference between these styles lies in the shape and pattern of the cuts. Before buying any article, verify its photographs with official Waterford designs, to authenticate it. Waterford Lismore is the most lasting pattern, and also the most common choice of counterfeiters.
If unable to verify the article or if buying a costly collectible, it is advisable to consult an expert on glassware beforehand. There are also a number of books that provide extensive information on Waterford Crystal verification.
When compared to the price of genuine Waterford Crystal ware, a counterfeit item would, in most cases, be cheaper.
Keeping all these tips in mind, you can easily verify if the article is an authentic Waterford product or not. One thing to remember is, the marking may fade over time and use, and one should not rely on that alone. Getting the design checked by an expert may be needed in some cases. But ironically, with scores of fakes flooding the market, most glassware experts base their judgment using Waterford Crystal catalogs!