An important tip experts give on identifying Waterford crystal patterns is to first authenticate that the crystal itself is genuine Waterford. Waterford crystal has a much greater lead content than normal glassware and feels far heavier.
It is also thicker, with a bright sparkle and sharp cuts that contain finely etched lines. One way to identify Waterford is to hold a glass up to the light and turn it slowly until the etchings appear.
Waterford crystal also contains various markings. The Penrose marking is located at the base and identifies crystal produced from 1783 to 1851. Waterford also has a seahorse marking with or without the name "Waterford." On pieces produced from 1950 to 1999, a Waterford mark appears at the foot of an item for glassware or is etched within crystal cuts for vases. If the piece lacks a distinguishing mark, it does not necessarily mean that it is not genuine Waterford; on pieces that are very old, the mark can wear away.
To distinguish Waterford patterns, many experts use pattern books. Waterford has introduced dozens of patterns throughout the years with the most common being Lismore, which was designed to resemble the outer façade of Lismore Castle. Other popular patterns commonly found are Colleen, Kathleen and Alana. Every pattern should display the deep cuts, fine lines and exquisite detail of true Waterford, Waterford.com is a good resource for identifying pattern differences. The site hosts a huge collection of patterns that are listed alphabetically with photos of glassware, vases and other items.
Waterford Crystal is renowned for quality craftsmanship since 1783. It is named for the town of Waterford, Ireland. In addition to home collections, Waterford also crafts sporting trophies for the Master Series tennis tournament and the French and German Grand Prix.