Swarovski (pronounced Swor-ov-ski) is a company known for its amazing crystals in the form of figurines, finished jewelry, beads, and jewelry components. The company's patented technique helps create high-quality crystal that has beautiful luster and sparkle to it. While there are many other types of crystal beads and jewelry components on the market, Swarovski is still known for making the highest quality crystal in the industry.
Daniel Swarovski, (aka David Swartz), was the son of a glass cutter in Bohemia, Austria so it is no surprise that he became very skilled at glass making and glass-cutting. Swarovski uses quartz, sand, and minerals—the exact proportions of these raw materials has remained a company secret—to create their super sparkly glass. In 1892, he invented and patented a brand new glass cutting machine that used hydro-electricity to be used in cutting the crystal glass.
This allowed crystals to be cut more precisely than they could ever be cut by hand, even by the most accomplished and practiced glass cutters. Bicone crystal beads are some of the best known from the Swarovski line. They are cut with a diamond shape on either side, thus giving off a highly faceted appearance and lots of sparkle.
Swarovski is now a fifth generation family-owned business with over 25,000 employees.
The Swarovski Brand
Swarovski has two major parts to the Swarovski Brand: producing and selling loose crystals and elements to various industries, and then creating precision-cut crystals for jewelry, figurines, and home decor.
The Swarovskis did not stop at simply finding a better way to cut glass but went on to further create tools and processes to enhance the glass they cut.
In 1956, in cooperation with Christian Dior, Swarovski developed the “Aurora Borealis” effect (known to people in the jewelry-creating world as "AB" effect). The AB effect provides a shimmering rainbow sparkle to the crystals making them even more sparkly and unique.
In 1977, Swarovski launched their own jewelry collection including watches and rings. Swarovski crystals started to be seen in the fashions of top designers, including D&G, Chanel, and Louis Vuitton.
In 1995, Swarovski opened a museum in Austria showcasing the extensive Swarovski collection.
Swarovski also created the 9-foot diameter, 550-pound star-shaped crystal in 2004 that has sat on top of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree in New York City every year since.
Swarovski Elements is the brand name for the loose Swarovski crystals used by the fashion, jewelry, and accessories industries. Genuine Swarovski crystals are used in products designed and made by other manufacturers and they carry a “Made with Swarovski Elements” label.
Jewelry made with Swarovski crystals should be treated the same as all other fine jewelry. Avoid exposing the crystals to water, chemicals, or harsh treatment from work or sports. Only use a mild soap, water, and a soft cloth for cleaning and polishing Swarovski jewelry and crystals. Store your Swarovski jewelry in a way that it will not be scratched.
When creating jewelry with Swarovski crystals, keep the crystals in a soft pouch or the package they came in in order to keep them from chipping and scratching. Be sure to use care when adding crimp beads near any Swarovski Crystals as they may chip.
How to Tell If a Swarovski Is Real
There are several ways to tell if a Swarovski crystal is real or an imitation. While some can be determined by just looking at the crystal and its packaging, others require looking at the crystal through a jeweler’s glass to see the fine details of the crystal.
- There should be no bubbles inside the crystal.
- Swarovski crystals have a brilliant shine that outshines imitation crystal. Do a side-by-side test and you will see the difference.
- Swarovski crystals are exactly identical in size and cut since they are machine-made.
- There is no difference in the color of crystals that come from the same color family.
- A sure sign of imitation are scratches or an oily sheen on the surface of the crystal.
- Packaging should be labeled "Swarovski".
- Swarovski crystals are sold as loose stones and not on a string, except for Swarovski pearls.
Where to Buy
Numerous bead and jewelry supply vendors sell Swarovski crystals but the Swarovski website and stores are always the best bet to go for inspiration and to buy finished jewelry pieces.