Baccarat:the
light of luxury
Since 1764 the Baccarat brand has stood for
fantasy, luxury and sensuality
T
he world’s greatest creative artists have
always been fascinated by light. Light not
only transforms and makes visible the
world we live in. It is the very source of that world.
What a privilege it must be to use the power of light
to bring beauty into the people’s lives. That’s the
pleasure that since 1764 has been bestowed upon
Baccarat – the most renowned crystal factory in the
world, and maker of some of the most desirable
chandeliers and candelabras ever to be created.
Baccarat’s story
Baccarat’s story begins in the middle of the
Enlightenment, in the eighteenth century. The
venture started with an act of generosity: to save a
population threatened with poverty after a logging
company closed down. Bishop Louis de
Montmorency-Laval of Metz decided to found a
glassworks in Baccarat – a very worldly
undertaking for the diocese.
A beautiful forested area rich in silica, the Lorraine
had long been a glassworks region, producing large
glass items, such as mirrors and window panes, as
well as utility pieces like bottles and tumblers. The
wise King Louis XV authorised the creation of a
factory opposite the village of Baccarat, on the right
bank of the Meurthe River.
Launched in 1764, the glassworks rapidly became
the most beautiful establishment in Europe”.
Soon after, under the influence of Parisian Aimé-
Gabriel d’Artigues, it began producing crystal glass.
The year was 1816. The Napoleonic Empire had
collapsed after Waterloo. The extravagant French
society during the Restoration was partial to
decorum and pomp: everything had to shine,
including light, which gleamed and sparkled in
restaurants and mansions. The audacious Baccarat
innovations echoed the reigning festive spirit and
changing lifestyle. Following the custom
introduced by the king of using a complete service
of glasses during meals, the first sets of Baccarat
stemware began to appear on the best tables in the
kingdom. In 1823, the Baccarat crystal factory won
the gold medal at the National Exhibition of
French Industrial Products.
Dazzled by their finish and beauty, Louis XVIII
ordered a set of stemware from the crystal
glassworks factory. This ushered in a period of
prestigious commissions from Rajasthani
maharajahs, the Japanese Imperial Court, Arabian
kings and leaders of the Ottoman Empire, not to
mention the Russian court, for which one of the
furnaces of the glassworks was specifically reserved.
Baccarat had achieved incomparable prestige. The
combination of technical innovation, bold design
and constant collaboration among the highly
skilled craftsmen (glassblowers, glasscutters and
engravers) and the company’s engineers bore fruit:
in 1839 Baccarat launched sumptuous crystal
pieces in colour. Obtained by adding gold, ruby red
the colour of passion and the symbol of life – was
a brilliant breakthrough for Baccarat and a dramatic
aesthetic achievement that has enchanted Baccarat
fans for 150 years.
Other famous shades in the Baccarat palette
include exquisite sky blue, pink, chalcedony green,
parrot green, cobalt blue, amethyst and amber.
These colours were used in endless variations for
perfume bottles and for jewellery a century later.
By 1840 the rival crystal factory of Bohemia had
been left far behind by the beauty and originality
of the Baccarat colours.
The illustrious Harcourt service with six flat facets
was created in 1841. The purity and magic of the
light emanating from the heart of the crystal made
Harcourt an instant success and one of Baccarat’s
signature patterns. Another iconic design, the
famous black crystal, known as “onyx,” has been
produced since the mid-nineteenth century. It is
difficult to make: five components are added to the
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S I M P LY A B U DH A B I