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.
Who invented Swarovski crystals?
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!
What are Swarovski crystals made of?
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's crisp, clear, and ultra-sparkly crystals is the addition of lead. Originally 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...
What are advanced crystals?
In 2012, Swarovski unveiled their lead-free “Advanced Crystal” formula, containing only 0.009 percent lead and just as much sparkle. Their entire Swarovski product line is now considered lead-free. Advanced Crystal has raised the bar for quality and sustainability in the industry, producing crystals of the highest quality, while ensuring they meet and surpass legislation, regulations and industry standards.
How are Swarovski crystals made?
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.
Where are Swarovski crystals made?
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 Worlds, a surreal museum/themepark developed by Swarovski in celebration of their 100th anniversary. Be sure to send us a postcard!
How does Swarovski make crystal pearls?
To make crystal pearls, Swarovski starts with a round crystal bead and surrounds it with layers of a man-made lustrous pearlescent coating. The resulting crystal core bead is a perfectly round faux pearl with the weight of a genuine natural pearl. Swarovski pearls adapt to skin temperature when worn. Just like their crystal counterparts, Swarovski crystal pearls come in a wide variety of colors, shapes, and sizes. Swarovski crystal pearls meet the highest standards in terms of durability. They are resistant to external influences such as UV radiation, abrasion, perfume and perspiration.
What are AB Swarovski crystals?
Swarovski, together with Christian Dior, developed the “Aurora Borealis” or AB effect, a special coating which gives a shimmering rainbow sparkle to the crystals in 1956.
How do you care for Swarovski crystal jewelry?
Avoid exposing Swarovski crystals to harsh chemicals. A drop of gentle dish soap, warm water, and a soft cloth should be used for cleaning and polishing Swarovski jewelry. Store your Swarovski crystal jewelry pieces in a soft cloth to guard against scratching any metal items also stored in your jewelry box.
How can you tell is a Swarovski crystal is real?