If you want a luxury collection, you simply cannot go wrong with crystals. Like porcelain tableware, otherwise known as china, crystals are known for being delicate but elegant, fragile but exquisite. In terms of looks and value, they are practically timeless. Crystals have been prized by many for decades, but only select makers have successfully crafted pieces so fine, they gained the favor of no less than the world’s richest and most powerful.
Here are some of the most popular crystal makers:
If time were the litmus test of excellence in crafting crystals, Baccarat would simply be at the top. Founded by the Bishop of Metz in the latter half of the 1700s, it is the oldest crystal manufacturer in existence today. Like many of its creations, it has survived wars and revolutions across the centuries, continuing to awe and impress even today’s connoisseurs.
Baccarat pieces are hand-blown and include chandeliers, as well as figurines, tableware, and decorations. These creations stun not just with their intricate form, but also with their masterful use of gold accents and red, green, and amethyst color blocks. Baccarat’s infamous Zenith Midnight Chandelier is crafted in black crystal and has lit some of the most luxurious rooms in the world for generations.
With its long history, it is no wonder that the House of Baccarat’s admirers go way back. Jayajirao Scindia, Maharajah of Gwalior, Czar Nicolas II, and Portugal’s Queen Maria Pia of Savoy are among Baccarat’s famous clients.
Founded in 1878 in Nancy, France by Jean Daum, this crystal studio gained prominence in the Art Nouveau period during the turn of the 20th century. It is notable for being the only commercial crystal manufacturer using the glass paste process instead of the more common glass-blowing approach. Their body of work consists of crystal art and sculptures, although they also create elaborate decorations and tableware.
Daum is also famous for its interesting use of colors, resulting in crystal pieces that look like jewels carved into shape. In the past, it has worked with famous artists, including Salvador Dali and Hilton McConnico.
Founded by renowned glass-maker Rene Lalique, the company earned its fame by creating exotic crystal art inspired by nature. Among the company’s greatest claims to iconic status is its Bacchantes collection with its stylized and sensual depiction of the female form. The subject, the execution, and the expert play of subtlety and detail in its pieces contributed to the status that Lalique enjoys until today.
Those who want to experience the beauty of Lalique pieces will be pleased to know that the maker offers an extensive range of crystal lighting, tableware, jewelry, desk accessories, and highly acclaimed perfume bottles. Lalique is now a mainstay in many luxurious locations around the world and touts some of the most replicated crystal designs which, if anything, is only further proof of the kind of reputation the brand possesses.
Perhaps nothing exemplifies the qualities of Steuben’s crystal works better than the “Arctic Fisherman,” a sculpture which depicts an Eskimo piercing a frozen body of water represented by a chunk of clear glass. Everything, from the details of Eskimo’s coat down to his spear (made of a delicate strand of glass), is a hallmark in precision, the very same quality that has earned Steuben the recognition as one of the top names in crystal sculptures.
Founded in 1903 in Corning, New York, the manufacturer pioneered the creation of glass products that featured cut, engraved, and free-blown designs. Steuben is credited with two glass specialties that have become part of its trademark: Aurene with its translucent, almost fluid finish, and Intarsia which featured overlapping inlays of color.
Steuben has collaborated with many famous artists over the years to create masterpieces, such as Kiki Smith’s “Tattoo Vase,” James Carpenter’s “Pair of Hearts,” Beth Lipman’s various collections, among others. Apart from being a favored gift to world leaders like Queen Elizabeth II, Steuben pieces have also featured prominently in many Hollywood productions. The glass slipper in Disney World was also made by Steuben.
The name may be synonymous to luxurious jewelry, but Tiffany & Co. is actually more than that. Catering high-end products to a mostly affluent clientele, the retailer offers everything from water bottles and accessories up to stationery and diamonds. They also sell crystals.
Founded in Brooklyn, Connecticut in 1837, Tiffany began as an emporium for luxury goods. The store earned its renown for selling highly stylish items, a standard it seeks to uphold until now even through its crystal collection. Tiffany’s crystal pieces range from the simple to the ornate, existing in the form of glasses, bowls, paperweights, and other decor. They even have crystal boxes.
If there is one word this brand has become famously synonymous with, it’s “quality.” Established in 1783 in Waterford, Ireland, this crystal maker etched its name through a distinct cutting pattern that has been a classic staple among its products, whether they’re tableware, home decor, lighting, pens, or accessories. Among its most noteworthy creations was the ballet ribbon collection, which used slender ribbons to turn all too familiar stemmed glasses into elegant pieces of art.
Today, Waterford is also known as the maker of glass trophies for many prestigious sporting events, such as the French, German, and Belgian Grand Prix in Formula One, as well the People’s Choice Award trophy.
This name is big in the fashion world, but it definitely did not start there. In 1892, Daniel Swarovski invented a revolutionary crystal cutting machine. This helped in the creation of many things crystal, from crystal-studded ribbons that could be sewn into clothes to highly precise optical instruments. It was only later that the Swarovski brand and its iconic swan logo entered fashion. Today, Swarovski offers jewelry, fashion accessories, watches, figurines, and even perfumes.
The brand’s appeal originates from its emphasis on simplicity while celebrating the quirkiness that may of its customers find attractive and at the same time relatable. Swarovski crystals often come in small sizes as beads one can attach to clothes and accessories. They are affordable too, so they are considered an excellent start for neophyte crystal collectors.
Crystals are truly items of luxury in more way than one. They are exquisitely beautiful, dainty—fragile, even—and they attract enough attraction and inspiration that their wealthy admirers are willing to pay a fortune for them. However, not all crystals are created equal, for some are indeed better than others and they have history and the acclaim of their patrons to prove it.