Martin Benito was born into a family of expert perfume bottle makers, well known since the 1920s. He started cutting crystal at the age of 14, and in 1952 founded Cristal Benito, having trained his father and two brothers to cut crystal instead of glass, and taking them into his workshop to practice alongside him.
The family quickly achieved an unprecedented mastery in the field, perfecting the use of grinding wheels (used to cut crystal) as well as the crystal sculpture technique, in which crystal is cut as deeply as possible, to the very limit of its resistance, to enhance its luster, shine, and reflective capacities.
Martin designed the first of the company’s unique creations. These achieved international recognition in short order, in particular his famous Napoleon III-style bar à liqueurs. Key to this recognition was the development of the Cristal Benito 32-point star, a technique still recognizable in many of the company’s diverse creations.
Today, the firm remains one of France’s finest crystal cutting institutions, and is run by Franck Benito. Trained by his father, Franck is a remarkable cutter in his own right.
He begins his process by tracing the lines of his designs onto uncut forms. These are then milled by hand, and the rough cut refined—the patterns channeled deeper and deeper, to the very breaking point of the crystal. The most brilliant sheen is brought forth with increasingly fine polishing wheels. Once the cut is finished, pieces are polished with yet another wheel or in an acid bath, and colored, whilst hot, with pigments.
Franck continues to honor his family’s heritage, expanding the range of Cristal Benito creations—each day designing new models, revisiting existing ones, and experimenting with light, color, and reflection to enhance and refine the techniques passed on by his father.