March 17, 2017
From the 9.5 ft shimmering star that graces the awe inspiring Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center, to the glorious chandeliers at the Metropolitan Opera House, to the annual glittery curtain at the Oscars, Swarovski has undoubtedly made it's mark on popular culture. So why all the hoopla over what, some might say, simply amounts to cut glass? Read on for a sneak peek behind the legendary glitz and glamour of Swarovski crystal.
Daniel Swarovski (1862 - 1956), a.k.a. Daniel Swartz, was a true Bohemian. Not necessarily the wandering free-spirited type, but rather he was actually born and raised in northern Bohemia, now known as the Czech Republic. His father owned a small glass cutting factory where Daniel worked as an apprentice and later invented a revolutionary precision glass cutting machine powered by clean hydroelectricity. Daniel (pictured below sporting an enviable mustache) set up the Swarovski factory in the tiny town of Wattens, Austria, at the foothills of the Austrian Alps, to take advantage of the Alpine waterfalls and the mountain’s hydroelectric possibilities...not to mention it's a visually stunning location to boot!
Unlike natural crystal, such as quartz, amethyst, adventurine, or fluorite mined from the Earth, Swarovski crystals are man-made, created from a combination of natural minerals and pure quartz sand. The key ingredient for Swarovski crystal however, is the addition of lead. Created with a 32% lead content in order to maximize light refraction, or the disco-like rainbow prism effect, that dances within the crystal, the brilliant sparkle of a Swarovski crystal is very close to that of a diamond. Appropriately so, because after all, Swarovski's guiding vision was bring the glamorous look of royalty to everyday commoners by creating an affordable alternative, "a diamond for everyone". You just have to like the guy...
Now how exactly do you accomplish such a feat? Well, to tell you the truth, we don't really know. Swarovski doesn’t talk about the specifics of their secret formulas or highly guarded production and finishing processes. Access to the factory floor is strictly limited, so the exact recipe and the proportion of quartzes, sand, and minerals remain a company secret. What we do know is that the minerals and quartz sand are combined and fired. Once removed from firing, they go through a very slow cooling process that eliminates flaws and imperfections in the final product.
Swarovski crystals, the faceted lead glass that is known around the world for its brilliance, are now the standard against which all other lead glass crystals are judged. For five generations, the Swarovski family has continued the tradition of making the most recognized crystals in the world exclusively out of their factory in Wattens, Austria. While there are no tours of the Swarovski factory, should you happen to be in Austria, you may want to check out Crystal Woods, a surreal museum/themepark developed by Swarovski in celebration of their 100th anniversary. Be sure to send us a postcard!
We welcome you to explore and shop our curated collection of natural stone and Swarovski crystal bracelets. Remember to leave a little sparkle wherever you go!
Comments reviewed prior to publishing.
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