How to Identify Waterford Crystal


Waterford Crystal is the brand name of beautiful crystal glassware and other crystal items. Its roots go back to Waterford, Ireland, beginning in the year 1793. Today, Waterford crystal is still produced and the company is a part of WWRD Holdings Ltd. (bought in 2015 by Fiskars Corp.) that also produces products by Wedgwood and Royal Doulton. Waterford crystal remains a very collectible brand and being able to distinguish it is a valuable skill in the crystal business.

Part 1
Identifying by Acid Stamps

Identifying by Acid Stamps on How to Identify Waterford Crystal

1
Search online for images of authentic Waterford acid stamps. Older stamps feature the name “Waterford” in Gothic-script in either one of two designs.[1] Pieces made since the year 2000 include the seahorse trademark.[2]

Identifying by Acid Stamps on How to Identify Waterford Crystal

2
Wash by hand in warm-to-hot water with mild dish soap. Prevent spotting by also washing with a 1/4 cup of ammonia. Use a soft cloth or sponge to avoid scratching, which may occur with scouring pads. Rinse the crystal and allow it to air-dry.[3] If you dry it with a cloth, be sure the cloth is lint-free. To clean vases or decanters or any other piece that you can’t reach inside of, fill them halfway with warm-to-hot water and a few drops of dish soap. Add 2 tablespoons of white vinegar or ammonia. Then add 1 cup of uncooked rice. Swirl the mixture around to clean the inside of the piece. Rinse it out with warm-to-hot water and then set it upside-down to air-dry.[4] For tougher stains, fill the piece all the way with warm water. Add a denture-cleaning tablet. Wait for the mixture to remove the residue. Rinse the crystal thoroughly and set it upside-down to air-dry.[5]

Identifying by Acid Stamps on How to Identify Waterford Crystal

3
Use a magnifying glass to search for the acid stamp.[6] Start at the base, where it is most often located.[7] Search the grooves next if you don’t find it on the base. Be aware that excessive washing, usage, and age may affect the acid stamp’s visibility.[8] If you find none, have the crystal examined by an expert to authenticate it.

Part 2
Identifying by Stickers

Identifying by Stickers on How to Identify Waterford Crystal

1
If your crystal is older or from a limited run, check for a gold sticker featuring Waterford’s green seahorse emblem.[9] Be aware that stickers may have been removed over time, whether intentionally or not.[10]

Identifying by Stickers on How to Identify Waterford Crystal

2
Search online for images of authentic Waterford stickers to verify that the design matches your own. If possible, visit a retailer or collector in possession of Waterford pieces featuring stickers to compare them in person. If you’re in doubt, seek an appraiser to judge your piece’s authenticity.

Identifying by Stickers on How to Identify Waterford Crystal

3
Remember that a sticker may be transferred from a genuine Waterford to another piece.[11] Although older pieces may not have had one to begin with, check the crystal anyway for an acid stamp for further verification. If there isn’t one, have the crystal examined by an expert to confirm that it’s a true Waterford.[12]

Part 3
Identifying Crystal in General

Identifying Crystal in General on How to Identify Waterford Crystal

1
If you’re unable to find an identifying sticker or acid stamp, check to see if it’s made of genuine crystal or just glass. Find a piece of glassware that’s about the same size and shape for comparison.

Identifying Crystal in General on How to Identify Waterford Crystal

2
Make sure the piece acts as a prism. Twist it slowly in front of the light source. Look for a rainbow to appear when the light disperses.[13] Do the same with the glassware and note that it does not produce a rainbow.

Identifying Crystal in General on How to Identify Waterford Crystal

3
Tap the rim. Listen for a musical chime that’s high in pitch. To contrast, do the same with a piece of regular glassware and listen for the dull thud that comes when you tap it.[14]

Identifying Crystal in General on How to Identify Waterford Crystal

4
Hold the glassware in one hand and your crystal in the other. If your piece is truly crystal, it should feel significantly heavier due to its higher lead content.[15]

Identifying Crystal in General on How to Identify Waterford Crystal

5
If you’re satisfied that your piece is truly crystal, have it examined by an expert to confirm whether its design matches one of Waterford’s, or research it on your own with a book identifying Waterford’s various designs. However, due to the high value of Waterford crystal pieces and the high number of counterfeits out there,[16] seek out a professional opinion for better peace of mind.