House of Waterford Crystal
Through 236 years, Waterford Crystal and the visionary characters behind its evolution, have crafted a unique story in glass. A luxury collection of the finest crystal continues to be made by skilled craftsmen at the House of Waterford Crystal factory situated in the heart of Waterford City, in Ireland’s Ancient East. A significant tourist attraction, the House of Waterford Crystal welcomes 200,000 visitors annually from across the world.
Guided Factory Tour
On the tour, visitors witness mould making – a technique at Waterford that has remained unchanged throughout the centuries, as the Master Blowers shape the molten crystal flawlessly with the use of wooden moulds and hand tools
The next part of the tour is truly magical, as visitors enter the blowing department where they see glowing balls of crystal transformed into majestic shapes as they are put through the 1300-degree furnace. The Waterford Crystal pieces are then hand marked for precision and accuracy, and they are then cut, sculpted and engraved. Skills have passed from master to apprentice. Fresh ideas have reinvigorated iconic sparkling cuts in contemporary ways.
While getting this behind the scenes sneak peak of this highly skilled method of crystal manufacturing, visitors also see the high standards that the House of Waterford Crystal has for each piece that leaves the factory. The crystal is inspected at each stage of production, so each piece no matter how small goes through six inspections, and if it fails to reach the Waterford Crystal standards at any stage it is smashed and returned to the furnace to be re-melted so that the piece can be started again.
Visitors next witness the cutting department. The Master Cutter must rely on his own skill to judge the amount of pressure that is required to hold the crystal to the wheel; too much pressure will cause a cut through to the other side. Each of our craftsmen has trained for a minimum of 8 years to master their craft. They are responsible for giving each piece the clear and sparkling cut that is the distinctive hallmark of Waterford Crystal.
The final stages of the tour are the engraving and sculpting departments. The Master Sculptors at Waterford works three dimensionally, using their skill to sculpt the desired piece from a solid block of crystal. Days, weeks and even months can pass before a sculpted piece is completed. The type of copper wheel engraving used at Waterford Crystal is called 'Intaglio', which means reverse. It can take from hours to days to complete the engraving on many of our international sporting trophies and limited-edition inspiration pieces.
Visitors can experience over 12,000 square feet of crystal heaven in the largest retail and showcase of Waterford Crystal in the world. The retail store represents everything we make in crystal, including a showcase on golf and sport, which is a major part of our international business.