The firm of Baccarat was founded in 1764 by Royal consent, becoming known as the Compagnie des Cristalleries de Baccarat in the 19th century. Joining the company in 1841, François-Eugène de Fontenay discovered that the addition of nickel oxide in the glass manufacturing process produced a perfectly clear product, resembling precious rock crystal. As a result, the Baccarat company was awarded a Gold Medal at the Expositions des produits de l'industrie française in 1844.
By the end of the 19th century, continuing advancements in their manufacturing standards had improved the quality of Baccarat's 'crystal glass' enough to rival and rapidly eclipse the output of the English and Bohemian manufacturers, which until then had dominated production. Today Baccarat 'crystal glass' is still renowned for its unusual clarity, great solidity and weight.