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Ajka Crystal, Top Quality Crystal Ware from Hungary!

Cased Crystal Vodka set - Anastasia
cased crystal vodka set - Anastasia

Benat Neumann
 Founder of Ajka Crystal
(1839 - 1919)

Benat Neumann (1839 - 1919)

Ajka Crystal is situated in the city of Ajka, about 50 km west of Budapest, the capital of Hungary. The company Ajka is world famous for its luxury crystal ware. Each piece made in the glass factory of Ajka is made by hand.

History of Ajka Crystal

Benat Neumann was born in 1839 (most probably) and raised in Papa, a town in Hungary, where his Jewish parents settled after moving over from the Bohemian-Polish provinces. He was not, like many other glass pioneers, skilled in any glass related profession, but at the age of 23 he was managing an estate in Úrkút, where the owners also operated a glass kiln. He tried to lease the kiln but when the owners didn’t feel for that, he backed out and went over to do other business.

Ajka champagne flute
Ajka champagne flute

At a certain moment between 1876 and 1878, Neuman, who was a cunning businessman, understood that the situation in Ajka was ideal to start a glass factory. They mining coal nearby and there was a railway. Moreover the kiln in Úrkút was closed in 1876 so there was no competitor nearby.

Neumann’s company thrived and his business talent was the reason that the glassware was sold in Vienna, Budapest and even to Romenia. In the mid 1880s the company received awards for its exquisite products.

Although he controlled the market in the far surroundings of Ajka, Neumann understood that his company was not large enough to survive on its own. He searched and found a good buyer in the Kossuch family, a family which had already earned its credits in the glassware industry. In 1891 Neumann sold them the glass factory in Ajka.

The factory encountered two world wars and the great depression. The company was sold a couple of times and was finally nationalized in 1948. In the mid fifties of the last century the production went into the right direction again and the workers at Ajka could be once again proud on their company and products.

Ajka started in 1964 with cut lead crystal, in clear but also in colors, and this was a success. Within Ajka they speak of the Lead Crystal Period. Exports of their products increased to all parts of the world.

In 1989, the American-Hungarian businessman, Gabor Varszegi, bought the company and since then Ajka Crystal is part of the Fotex Group.

During the crisis of 2008, the luxury crystal companies all over the world had a hard time and Ajka Crystal was also on the path to bankruptcy. Fortunately for Ajka, many competitors filed bankruptcy and Ajka had just enough breath to make it through this difficult period. An order from Rolls Royce turned the situation and the company is now doing very well again.

Heavily decorated crystal items with vines and roses

The Ajka Products

The products from Ajka Crystal belong to the highest segment of the glassware and crytal ware market. The company produces luxury tableware, like cups, glasses, carafes, bottles, vases and bowls, and luxury gifts. The materials they use are potash and lead crystal

At Ajka they say that when you hold an Ajka Crystal product in your hand, not only are you touching a masterpiece, but also the heart of the masters who made it. From designers to glass workers, the staff is very dedicated to make a masterpiece and this really reflects in each and every item.

The company is well known for its cameo crystal products. This technique, ranging back to the old Romans, was very popular in the end of the 19th century in Europe and the US and Ajka more or less revived this product in the 1960s.

For cameo glassware, the glass blowers must make a piece of glassware existing out of two (or sometimes more) layers of glass with a different color. Parts of the outer layer is removed by acid etching, cutting and engraving, so the design will come out against a different color. At Ajka they have around twenty colors and with these color combinations they make their beautiful products. Cameo glassware is also called cased glassware.

Besides cameo glassware, they are also the producer of the so called pâte de verre products. By pâte de verre, granules of glass are melted in a mold and so the art work is made. Ajka uses also the technique called casting. With this technique a glass block is melted in a mold and so the art piece is made.
Cased cut crystal centerpieces - Alexander
Cased cut crystal centerpeices - Alexander

Markets for Ajka Crystal

96% Of all the products produced by the 300 employees of Ajka Crystal is exported.  The main markets are Western Europe, (UK, Ireland, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and France), and the US. But there is also a demand from Japan and Southeast Asian countries.

In the US, Ajka sells their products under the brand name ‘The Romanov Collection’ and they have a very nice website where the products can be bought online. 

Ajka Crystal is a key crystal ware company who shows the world that persistence, quality and good design are the important ingredients for being successful.

Cobalt blue crystal bowl - Celestial
Cobalt blue crystal bowl - Celestial