In June 1826, smoke was rising from the chimney of the Cistercian abbey in Seraing, near Liège: the first furnace of the Val Saint Lambert Crystal Works had just been fired up. Val Saint Lambert would rapidly emerge as the epicentre of the Belgian crystal industry. For all the preconditions for a successful industry were met: the vicinity to the Meuse, a coal-rich region, a rail network, and even the enormous monastery facilities, which were ideally suited for artistic and craft activities on a large scale.

The end of the 19th century ushered in a golden age for Val Saint Lambert. The site around the former abbey expanded into an impressive village with more than 180 worker dwellings, with small gardens, a school, a shop, and even a hospital. In the crystal works, by now world famous, some 5,000 employees produced 120,000 unique crystal creations each day.

World War I brought an abrupt end to the expansion. Several key markets disappeared: the Balkans, the Russian tsars and Germany. The great depression of 1929 and the bombardment of World War II meant a further decline for the crystal works. This situation lasted up to the 1960s and 1970s, before two major innovations breathed new life into Val Saint Lambert: the introduction of the diamond disc for better cutting and engraving, and the replacement of the traditional pot furnace by a bath furnace, which melted solid raw materials into liquid glass.

From the 1970s the company’s history is marked by several restructurings and takeovers. Today, the Val Saint Lambert Crystal Works are in the hands of the Onclin family, which aspires to reinstate the brand on a global level.