José Benito arrived in France in 1925 and, with his brother, set up a workshop to make perfume bottle stoppers.
His son Martin Benito began his apprenticeship as a crystal cutter at the age of 14. Gifted and determined, he started his own company in 1952, training his father and his two brothers in crystal cutting. He developed the characteristic Cristal Benito 32-point star, seen on many creations, whatever their shape, their dimensions, even the colour of the crystal… because for certain pieces clarity is stretched to its very limits, reflections are broken up into a million fragments.
To create these astonishing pieces, he perfected both the grinding wheels used to cut crystal and the crystal sculpture technique, cutting the crystal as deeply as possible, to the very limit of its resistance, in order to enhance the lustre, the shine and the infinite reflections he imagined.
It was he who designed the first « Cristal Benito » creations, which achieved great success and quickly won over the international public, in particular thanks to the world-renowned Napoleon III-style «Bar à liqueurs».
Beyond this exceptional range, Cristal Benito also accepts commissions for custom-made pieces.
Franck Benito, the current managing director, joined the company to develop international business, before being trained by his father in crystal-cutting.
He became an exceptional cutter in his own right and continues to expand the range of « Cristal Benito » creations, designing new models or revisiting existing ones, or finding new colours and experimenting with light and reflection to enhance his sculptures, every day refining the techniques passed on by his father.
Everything starts with the slowly-evolving design, which is passed on to the crystal glass works.
A wooden mould is then made, around which the desired shape will be blown by mouth, in crystal with a lead content varying between 24 and 30% depending on requirements. In the workshop, Franck Benito traces the main lines of the sculpture onto the uncut form.
The form is then milled by hand to cut out the rough design. The cutting is then refined, the patterns channelled out more and more deeply, to the very breaking point of the crystal, to bring forth the most brilliant sheen with increasingly fine polishing wheels. Once the cut is finished, it needs to be polished, either with felt polishing wheels, or in an acid bath for a very carefully monitored period.
Assembling the pieces
At this stage the feet, handles and other elements also designed by Franck Benito and made by bronze smiths, are added to achieve the finished article. According to requirements these items can be made from gilded bronze, gold plated silver, even silver or gold.
Where does crystal get its colour?
For colour pieces, the initial form, always blown in « white » crystal, is covered, whilst hot, in a thin, extra? layer of crystal coloured with pigment. Then it is cut like other pieces, sometimes only retaining some cabochons, medallions or facets.
In 2006, the company was accredited as one of the « Entreprises du Patrimoine Vivant » (Living Heritage Companies), the seal of approval bestowed by the Ministry for the Economy, Industry and Employment on French businesses in recognition of their outstanding creative and industrial expertise.
These firms are distinguished by a sometimes age-old history and heritage, the capacity for innovation and exceptional, comprehensive expertise which has secured their reputation within the fabric of French business.
In 1960 Cristal Bénito is part of « Ateliers d’Art de France », the first professional union of artistic trades.
In 2005, Cristal Benito received the SEMA Prize(Society for the Promotion of Artistic Trades), which promotes and rewards professionals talented in restoration-conservation, in traditional skills and in contemporary creation.
In 2005 and 2009, Cristal Benito received the « Prix de la Dynamique artisanale » (Craftsmanship Award), », awarded by the Groupe Banque Populaire in partnership with the APCM (Standing Council of Chambers of Trade), SOCAMA (Mutual Guarantee Societies) and the UPA (Professional Union of Craftspeople)..
In 2014, Cristal Benito national winner of the Commercial Dynamics and awarded as "Stars & Crafts 2014". The awards take place at Salle Wagram, Paris VIII.
Cristal Benito, the workshop of full lead crystal handmade cutting.
Discover Cristal Benito during the event ART & ECHO :
FEBRUARY 24TH - MARCH5TH
Four Seasons Hotel
Echo Brickell Sales office
1435 Brickell Avenue, Miami, FL 33131