We’ve all heard of them. Most of us likely own a piece and many have stood in awe of their radiance…But how much do you really know about the Swarovski crystal?
It’s hard not to get stunned by the magpie effect brought about by staring directly into the light of a Swarovski crystal.✨
For anyone with "shiny object syndrome", be warned!
What are Swarovski crystals?
It can be interesting to know that Swarovski crystals are not in fact the gemstone that many people imagine them to be. A Swarovski crystal is actually glass that has been made under extreme pressure and cut to precision by a machine designed for only one thing; to make this glass dazzle!
Let’s take a brief look at the history of Swarovski—it’s truly a beautiful tale.
On October 24th, 1862, Daniel Swarovski entered the world in Bohemian Georgenthal (now known as the Czech Republic).
His father owned a small factory of his own as a glass cutter in a country that was considered the epicenter for glass production…Daniel’s destiny may have already been written for him, right?!
He followed in his father’s footsteps and became skilled in the art of glass cutting.
In 1891 Daniel Swarovski patented a machine that used hydro-electricity to cut the crystal glass with much greater precision than any manual method ever could. In 1895 he packed up and moved from Bohemia to Wattens, Austria where he began major production of the Swarovski crystal.
And, during 1899, Swarovski settled on a logo. It used the Edelweiss, Austria's most cherished flower to represent the brand—a symbol of purity that perfectly represented the crystals we see today.
The First and Second World Wars affected the production of the specialized crystals, however, even during these hard times, Swarovski found success in the boom of the 1920’s flapper era!
The shorter waved hair of the "flapper girls" during this time allowed for an ever-growing demand for crystal headbands and fashion accessories to accentuate the style and a touch of glamour.
The 1950s saw a post-war surge in popularity with the haute-couture fashion trend-setters.
Hotfix technology was developed in 1974 which enabled the crystals to be fixed onto various fabrics without the aid of plastic or metal settings. This made the process far easier and enabled the crystal to shine bright without the hindrance of the supporting material.
In 1989 we saw the Edelweiss logo replaced with that of a Swan for a logo that we now see worldwide as the official emblem for the Swarovski brand.
Alright, so that’s an albeit brief history.🤗
Let’s dive further into the various subsidiaries within the Swarovski Group.
Did you think they just made beautiful jewelry? Allow us to enlighten you...
The Swarovski Group
Below we will look at some of the subsidiaries of The Swarovski Group and I think you’ll be surprised by what you’ll find!
Swarovski Crystal Business (SCB)
Swarovski Crystal Business encompasses the glass elements designed and carved for the finest jewelry, loose stones, glass ornaments and accessories.
Under this umbrella, we will find Swarovski’s own finished and semi-finished jewelry as well as the supply of loose crystals to other jewelry manufacturers.
It will come as no surprise to most that this entity is the highest-grossing subsidiary of The Swarovski Group with its jewelry and glass ornaments gracing roughly 3,000 stores in over 170 countries worldwide!
Whilst Swarovski makes their own jewelry that is specific to their brand, others can source these Swarovski Elements to use in their own pieces.
Other manufacturers can use these elements however they must clearly state the "Made With Swarovski Elements" label.
(Swarovski Professional was set up as a means to provide businesses with these Swarovski Elements in large volume)
In 1965, Swarovski developed the strictest standard and guidelines for finding and creating both Genuine Gemstones and Created Gemstones.
They called this subsidiary the Swarovski Gemstone Business.
Today, Swarovski’s Genuine Gemstones are responsibly sourced using a rigorous six-pillar acquisition process that guarantees high-quality gemstones from ethical sources.
Now this one will get you!
Swarovski Optik was founded on the back end of World War II, making lenses, binoculars, and telescopes using the Swarovski glass cutting expertise and positioning them as a leader in the precision optics market.
I know, crazy!
Tyrolit is a family-owned business proud to be part of the Swarovski Group, leading in innovation in the abrasives and cutting tools space.
Manufactures of grinding and cutting tools, two of their board members are actually fifth generation Swarovski family members!
The mission of Swareflex is to improve road safety for all.
They create highly reflective and robust glass component road marking using the Swarovski methods of forming high-quality and resistant materials that have longevity and can withstand extreme pressure and wear.
Swarovski crystals vs. Other crystals
When we consider other crystals, we are most often talking about "rhinestones".💡
To the untrained eye, they might not appear terribly different but the quality of a Swarovski crystal is simply unmatched by that of a rhinestone.
Rhinestones that we know today imitate crystal forms that were originally found along the Rhine River in Germany. Due to their expense, jeweler George Freidrich Strass in 1775 replicated them using glass as an alternative.
Rhinestones are now beloved everywhere as an inexpensive option for decorating and accessorizing…everything!
There are some pretty big differences, however, between the quality of the two crystals:
- Swarovski’s precision cutting means that the facets of the stone meet at a single point for balance, symmetry, and beauty. Rhinestones are often uneven and unbalanced in shape.
- Swarovski crystals will not have any bubbles or inclusions to be found, unlike that of the rhinestones where they may appear quite apparent.
- Rhinestones can often exhibit swirling marks and scratches from a less rigid production process that you will not see in a Swarovski crystal.
- Side by side, the rhinestone will seem dull and lifeless compared to the exuberance of the Swarovski crystal.
How are Swarovski crystals made?
The perfect cocktail of components to create an outstanding piece of Swarovski crystal consists of quartz sand, soda, and potash.
Other ingredients (the Swarovski Secret Recipe) are combined under high temperatures and melted together to form the luxury glass we see today.😎
What is potash and why is it important?
What Daniel Swarovski wanted was to handle glass that was clear, malleable, and easily shaped. Potash is the substance that allowed this.
Organic plant-based ash that is rich in potassium, by adding this potash to chalk, Daniel Swarovski revolutionized the glassmaking industry.
Is potash important? Yes, yes, YES!
The removal of lead from Swarovski crystals
Originally lead, in the form of lead-tetroxide, was used as an ingredient in the manufacturing process.
Because this element allows for the glass to be worked with for longer and also contributes to a higher refractive index. That’s right, even more, glitter and brilliance!
However, since 2012 Swarovski has prided themselves on being 100% lead-free and now uses other means to optimize brightness and sparkle from their stones.👍🏻
Indeed, the hologram inscribed on the back of every package reads:
“...advanced crystal superior brilliant lead-free”
So with all of its other desirable qualities, you can consider Swarovski safe to use, which is always nice to know, right?
Swarovski machine patented technology
In the Wattens headquarters lives that patented machine technology established by Daniel Swarovski all of those years ago. This machine changed the game.
Crystals were able to be cut and produced with a precision that was incomparable to the prior manual production process.
Today, computer-aided technology allows the crystals to be cut with up to one hundred mirrored facets to allow for optimum brilliance, sparkle and luxury.👍🏻
The array of prisms offers a unique shine and multitude of colors thanks to the high refractive index this creates.
Swarovski chemical coatings
Alright, so Swarovski removed lead from their mixture…
Does that mean they compromised on brilliance and sparkle? No, of course not!
An array of chemical coatings have been concocted and added to the Swarovski crystal to give an overall desired effect.
Perhaps the most famous and sought after of these was named the Aurora Borealis, given as an homage to the ever-changing colors of the Northern Lights.
This allowed a multitude of colors to exude from the Swarovski crystal, every color of the rainbow could be seen and it remains one of the most popular Swarovski crystals of choice to this day!
What are the different types of Swarovski crystals?
Alright, seeing as there is so much to choose from (perhaps even more than you know!) let’s take a sneak peek into all of the different types of Swarovski crystals available, how they are used, shapes available, and their application methods.
A Diamond for Everyone
It was the dream of Daniel Swarovski to create a stone that could be considered, "...a diamond for everyone".💖
He stood proud in designing and producing quality cut colorless Swarovski crystals that were competing against the diamond industry and making its mark in a thriving jewelry marketplace.
The flawless execution and production of these colorless Swarovski crystals make them a perfect diamond alternative.
Accessibility for those who deserved luxury and elegance even when they couldn’t stretch to the budget required to wear a diamond meant that the colorless Swarovski crystal stood proud in a world of fierce competitors.
More Than Diamonds
So you thought colorless Swarovski was all there was?
Oh no, my friend, it doesn’t stop there!
Swarovski has taken their original legacy and transformed the way we look at precious gemstones.
With an ability to replicate and imitate such beautiful stones such as emeralds, sapphires, and rubies, colored Swarovski crystals even dominate the space of the colored stone!
Their Thermal Color Fusion Technology (TCF) allows them to create intense hues and tones within their stones, both lab-created and genuine.
Their Genuine Gemstones Collection finds them responsibly sources stones and then enhances them using this process.
With this process, they are able to recreate over 70 different colors with over 40 different effects!
😍A diamond for everyone and a GEMSTONE for everyone!
These small crystal droplets of color evoke emotion and form a powerhouse of standout jewelry…No wonder we love them so much.
The Swarovski color chart below is just one example of the range of colors available.
Different color charts are available for beads, stones, cup chains, charms, studs…you name it, they’ve got it!
Swarovski Crystal Groups (Shapes and Usages)
Swarovski crystals are separated into groups (types) according to their applications. Below we are going to run through a couple of the most popular shapes and uses for Swarovski crystals, specifically in jewelry (we know that’s what you’re after!).
Let’s jump in!
Everyone loves a pendant.
They are timeless. They offer character. They can say a lot about our personalities and who we are.
Well if you’re in need of something specific, something unique, something SPECIAL…Swarovski pendants will almost certainly fit the bill.
There are almost no shapes these pendants do not come in. From the classic forms, we know and love to off-the-cuff, avant-garde cuts in every possible color you could wish for.
The hole placed in the top of the pendant only needs a jump ring/pinch bail with chain or cord to make it into a stunning Swarovski necklace, Swarovski earrings, or Swarovski bracelet.
The clear through-hole and precision cutting of a Swarovski bead make them the highest quality of bead available on the market.
(I know, a high-quality bead, who knew?!)
The edges of each hole are rounded to discourage wear and increase the longevity of a Swarovski bead.
For jewelry, they can be weaved, threaded, and strung together to make a glamorous Swarovski bead necklace or earrings.
The application possibilities are vast and endless!
Swarovski Round Cut Stones
Loose Swarovski round cut stones are shaped in a variety of ways for maximum impact and ultimate luxury.
The most impressive of cuts considered to be the XILION Chaton or the XIRIUS Chaton, offering the best light refraction for pop and pizzaz!
These are considered Swarovski’s most sought-after crystal elements, perfect for accessories and jewelry of all kinds.💃🏻
They are coated on the underside allowing them to be easily placed in a metal claw or alternative setting.
Swarovski Fancy Stones
Swarovski Fancy Stones are like a pick n’ mix of goodies for a child in a playground.🤹🏻♂️
Available in so many colors and cuts that you can barely count, there is something here for everyone.
The assortment of sizes and shapes ranges from classic gemstone cuts to more extravagant and modern takes, after all, they like nothing more than to move with the times!
Both unplated or plated brass setting options are available, each tailored to suit the specific fancy stone available.
The images below are just SOME of the shapes available.
Just the tip of the iceberg...
Swarovski BeCharmed and Pave
Don’t we all just love a charm?!
Charm bracelets and trinkets have exploded in recent times and people can’t get enough of the nostalgia and sentimentality associated with these special pieces.
The Swarovski BeCharmed and Pave assortments are made up of varying crystal and pave charms, beads, and stoppers.
The stainless steel center holds a 4.5mm diameter hole which is standard to fit most charm bracelets today.
As always, the different color and style possibilities are countless. Check out the diagram below for just a few examples!
So, What makes Swarovski crystals special?
I thought you’d never ask:
- For the diamond lovers who can’t invest in the diamond price tag, the colorless Swarovski crystals offer an inexpensive but luxurious alternative.
- Loose Swarovski crystals are available for anyone wanting to create their own unique pieces that scream high quality and fashion!
- Swarovski is steeped in rich history! From a son of a glass cutter to a leading crystals manufacturing conglomerate!
- Colored Swarovski crystals can be purchased in every hue imaginable. Their distinctive colors and coatings provide intense saturation and a striking overall effect.
- Their Swarovski Genuine Gemstones are responsibly sourced and go through an intensive vetting process to guarantee top quality and sustainability.
How to care for your Swarovski crystals
Alright, Swarovski might be a less expensive option but they are an item of luxury that deserves our care and attention.
Follow these simple guidelines for taking care of your Swarovski crystals so that they last a lifetime!
MAKE SURE TO:
- Remover all of your Swarovski jewelry before showering and washing.
- Avoid any harsh chemicals that might damage the coating of the crystal. This includes perfumes, moisturizers, and oils, etc.
- Clean your Swarovski jewelry with a very mild detergent and some warm water. Do not submerge for too long! Rinse the piece with clean water and dry with a soft cloth or towel.
- Keep your Swarovski and your other jewelry separate! Avoid scratches and marks by separating your Swarovski from other jewelry—harder materials like diamonds or sapphires will easily scratch a Swarovski crystal.
Are Swarovski crystals right for you? (Comparisons)
Now whilst stunning in their own right and deserving of their pedestal in the crystal wall of fame, Swarovski might not be right for everyone.
If we look at the difference between Swarovski crystals and other colored gems, there are significant differences.
Let’s take a look...
The beauty of a Swarovski is entirely unique and individual.
With the various coatings and color options available, colorless Swarovski crystals are exactly that and hold next to know inclusions or markings.
Diamonds and other colorless stone variants are graded according to their color and clarity gradings, this is not the same for Swarovski.
Swarovski Crystals are glass and not formed of minerals.
This means they can exude a huge amount of fire and brilliance, with coatings such as the Aurora Borealis coating allowing for the rainbow effect, and their colored stones are intense and rich through intense heat treatment.
Diamonds on the other hand offer that white dazzle that diamond lovers seek.💎
The beauty between a diamond and a Swarovski crystal cannot be compared…The Swarovski may make a stunning diamond alternative but a crystal it will always be!
Thanks to the advancement of modern technology, as we saw previously, there are no ends to what we can do with a Swarovski crystal!
We can wear them as necklaces, pendants, earrings, bracelets.
We can accessorize with them on headpieces, broaches, charms, and clothing.
They are used for making our roads safer for goodness sake!
The versatility of Swarovski crystals knows no bounds. Where other gems are limited, Swarovski crystals can come in almost any shape, size, and color.
If you can dream it, it probably exists!
If you look at the table below we can see that Swarovski crystal ranks far lower on the Mohs scale of hardness than the other examples we have here.
What this means is we simply need to be careful!
They will not be able to endure knocks and grazes like a diamond might, so they do need more care and attention.
Clean them regularly and keep them away from your other jewelry!
Price and Value
Without putting a huge dampener on the celebration of Swarovski crystals, ultimately they are not a rare or pure gemstone.
These glass formed pieces are radiant and extravagant but they hold little to no value compared to any stone that is naturally formed like that of a diamond.
This explains why the price point is considerably lower and does not even come close to what one might expect to pay for any natural gemstone alternative.
If you’re on a budget and looking for opulence, a Swarovski is a superb option. But it is not an investment.
The Swarovski crystal to rule them all
Swarovski crystals have been around for centuries now and there are no ques to suggest that they are going anywhere anytime soon.
People love their elegance and glamor, coupled with an incredibly reasonable price tag, Swarovski crystals offer everything you could want in an affordable "stone".
Despite holding seemingly no value, they are coveted by jewelry wearers worldwide and have gathered a loyal following over generations of progress and improvement.
What do you say, are you converted?