Baccarat: Luxurious Crystal for Kings and Celebrities

Patricia Abaroa

Founded in 1764, and with more than 250 years of history, Baccarat was the first French company to produce colored crystal. The brand has created iconic pieces for French monarchs, Czar Nicholas II, and US President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Actress Marilyn Monroe kept a Baccarat Sun Clock in her Manhattan apartment.

Innovation and dazzling creations have chronicled Baccarat’s illustrious history. In 2014, the firm celebrated its 250th anniversary with the right amount of pomp and circumstance. Their roots go back to 1764; when, with the permission of King Louis XV, the first glassworks opened In Lorraine, France. Through the decades, Baccarat became a symbol of superior craftsmanship and the French art de vivre. Fine crystal creations, including stemware, barware, chandeliers, perfume bottles, and jewelry have kept the label influential and easily recognizable.

— 1. Vase known as Du Negus presented at the International Exhibition of Eastern France in Nancy, 1909.  //  — 2. Georges Chevalier.  //  — 3. Production process.

A pioneer in its field, Baccarat has created esteemed pieces for some of history’s most emblematic personalities. Its first royal commission arrived in 1823 when Louis XVIII ordered the production of a glass service. In France, Charles X, Louis-Philippe, Napoleon III, Presidents and Heads of State followed suit. Globally, the firm has also made an impact with furniture pieces for Indian maharajahs, the Tsar Chandelier created for Nicholas II, and glasses engraved with the initials of American President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

A pioneer in its field, Baccarat has created esteemed pieces for some of history’s most emblematic personalities.


Baccarat is also celebrated for innovation in the world of crystal. They were the first glassworks in France to make colored crystal, an accomplishment that would earn them a gold medal at the National Exhibition of Industrial Products. The colors introduced in 1839 included the now famous gold ruby red, which has become a trademark hue for the luxury brand. Other striking pieces won a number of prizes at various Paris Universal Exhibitions.

In the 1920s, Georges Chevalier stepped in as Artistic Director and propelled the brand into the modern era with impeccable taste, bold choices and a rather geometric approach to design, which coincided with the advent of Modernism and Art Deco. Chevalier worked for the firm until the 1970s, consistently merging his artistic flair with Baccarat’s traditional roots. His Sun Clock from 1948 is a solid crystal starburst that once adorned the Manhattan apartment of famed playwright Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe, and was reissued as an anniversary present.


Harcourt glasses, the oldest in the Baccarat archive, are a staple of French power. To celebrate their 250 years, the Harcourt style took on a new, playful form by way of a chess set designed by the Japanese design studio Nendo. Fifty limited edition sets have been created with clear and midnight blue chess pieces that sit on an illuminating board. Each impeccably crafted set took over 200 hours to craft. “Baccarat has a very long history of tradition, but there is always fun in the product, and I want to express that,” said Oki Sato, founder of Nendo.

Baccarat has established a reputable legacy in the art of crystal production. A passion for perfection, immaculate craftsmanship, and artistic integrity has provided 250 years of fabulous designs and a strong historical presence. Generation after generation, elite craftsmen continue to create high-quality products that remain true to the Baccarat heritage. The firm has shaped the industry of crystal production with timeless works of art that leave lasting impressions.  ■

© | 2019