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Dark Crystal: The Secrets of Swarovski

There are diamonds, there are crystal, and then there’s Swarovski.

The unrealistically successful Austrian crystal producer is the epitome of shopping mall luxury. It sounds foreign, exclusive, valuable. However you can purchase a couple of Swarovski studs from Amazon for $17.60. A similar total carat weight in crystal, in a fundamentally the same as setting, would cost you some place north of $5,000, depending upon quality and provenance.

Swarovski makes glass but then the organization has figured out how to make for itself a brand that conveys weight in the luxury world, something no other maker of non-jems has ever even attempted. How on the world did that happen?

Swarovski, which celebrates its 120-year anniversary this year, is a steward of a centuries-old Bohemian tradition, making use of natural resources in the Czech Republic and Austria. It’s an amazingly imaginative plan studio and an phenomenally; innovative design studio, all in one. What’s more, obviously, beneficiary of absolutely genius marketing.

Swarovski doesn’t discuss their procedure. They won’t advise anybody what they do to the glass, how they make it. Be that as it may, everybody concurs that Swarovski’s lead glass is the best that is ever been made.


“Glass-production, obviously, is an extremely old strategy,” says Stefanie Walker, a jewelery historian who works for the National Endowment for the Humanities and educates at the Bard Graduate Center (among different spots).

To discuss Swarovski, she says, we need to first discuss about sand. Sand is fundamentally made out of silica, which legitimately is called silicon dioxide. You make glass by melting sand and different chemicals. Sand melts at 3090°F, so some of those chemicals, as you may expect, are used to lower that dissolving point to make the entire procedure somewhat simpler. Others are used for strength, to guarantee the glass won’t break up in water, and for different tasteful reasons.

Glass is not a crystal; as science teachers jump at the chance to state, glass is a specific type of liquid, so its internal structure is every one of the a confuse. A crystal, like to quartz, has an exceptionally strict molecular structure that permits it to develop, practically like connecting Lego blocks. To cut a genuine gem, you need to “cleave” it, lop it off, at a weak point. To continued with the Lego comparison, if you needed to decrease or reshape a Lego constrution, you wouldn’t attempt to break an people block; you’d need to remove blocks where they associate with different blocks. That is the reason jems have a specific array of shapes: creating a spherical diamond has become kind of an engineering challenge, because the crystal simply does not cut that way.

Glass is more similar to a Popsicle. It’ll hold its shape, but you can make that shape whatever you’d like, and can change that shape by meting and reforming it at whatever point you’d like. Cutting glass can be tricky, however it doesn’t work a similar way cutting crystal does.

Crystal Cloud at Swarovski Crystal Worlds
Crystal Cloud at Swarovski Crystal Worlds

Since the key element for making glass is so cheap (free, truly) and abundant, glass has a long history. Glass beads, the most punctual case of decorative glass, have been discovered going back around 3,000 years. Yet, as techniques and technology inches (and now and again spurts) forward, glass-making has turned out to be increasingly advanced. Around the sixteenth century is when glass-making truly turned into a craftsmanship, if not an absolutely above-board workmanship. “When you discuss the sixteenth century, or the Renaissance, you have peoples discussing fakes, glass fakes, for important jems, constantly,” says Walker. But, parallel to the advancement of fake crystal, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds is the idea of glass jwelery for its own purpose.

In the eighteenth and nineteenth hundreds of years, exploded thanks to development called glass paste. Previously, glass would be hand-formed by chipping away it to get the desire shape. That kind of glass was less expensive than diamonds, yet at the same time reasonably work concentrated. Glass paste, then again, is the principal case of truly top of the line, lovely glass adornments. A French gem originator named Georges Frédéric Strass in 1724 came up the thought to mix in a touch of lead with the glass, replacing carbon that had been there some time recently. This had two major impacts. Glen Cook, boss research researcher at the Corning Museum of Glass, says: “Lead glass is quite simple to melt and shape, as far as the temperatures required and the expertise required,” however he’s mindful so as to note that it’s still really far outside the scope of at-home DIY ventures. Also, surprisingly better, lead glass has very lovely sort kind of sparkle and brilliance—almost like diamonds.

A crystal dome at the Swarovski Crystal Worlds museum in Wattens.
A crystal dome at the Swarovski Crystal Worlds museum in Wattens.

Lead glass, sometimes (and in fact inaccurately) called crystal glass, turned out to be hugely popular after its innovation, particularly in the Victorian period in the mid-to late-1800s. “Indeed, even aristocrats or wealthier peoples would be cheerful to wear glass paste jwelery,” says Walker. What’s more, jewelers started to truly mess around with the potential outcomes of a wonderful, effortlessly manipulated, and extremely inexpensive gem; they added colored lacquer to the settings to give the glass a shading, or even embedded a touch of metallic foil underneath to expand their sparkle.

Be that as it may, styles changed, and in the late 1800s, the hook setting turned out to be exceptionally famous.

The hook setting grasps the diamond while uncovering however much of the pearl’s body as could reasonably be expected, so you can get light moving through the whole jem. Gem specialists may have even pushed this style to battle back the flood of crystal glass, on the grounds that at the time, gem glass didn’t hold up to the scrutiny of that sort of full-through view. In any case, the glass-creators reacted, and the most imperative was Daniel Swarovski.

Bohemia, a region now part of the Czech Republic that border Austria, has a long history of glass-production (and it stays one of the main three makers of silica on the world). Bohemians made lots of innovative technique and processes for making glass; in the Renaissance, it was Bohemians who found that potash, potassium-heavy plant ashes soaked in water, when joined with chalk, could make for an effectively workable and tremendously clear glass, an advancement still used today. Bohemian glass was and still is generally known for its artistry and craft, and Daniel Swarovski’s father owned a glass-making factory. Young Swarovski was obssesed with glass, and in 1892 patented new electric cutting machine, fueled by hydroelectricity from the high waterfalls in the Austrian alps, for cutting glass.

In 1895 Swarovski established the Swarovski company, originally called A. Kosman, Daniel Swartz and Co. (Swarovski changed his name because of rising anti-Semitism; as both a defensive and advertising measure, it appears to have worked). The company’s industrial facility was set up in the small town of Wattens, Austria, at the foothills of the Austrian Alps, to take advantage the mountain’s hydroelectric conceivable outcomes.

What improves Swarovski’s crystal than its competitors? It’s about brilliance

Swarovski Crystal Worlds park
Swarovski Crystal Worlds park

The word “brilliance” is a shortcut to describing to the path light takes through an object, and how it appears to us during that process.”Brightness refers to a property of glass that is identified with two things researchers call the ‘refractive indexed’ and the “dispersion” of the glass,” says Cook. “The science here begins to get quite complicated quikly, yet the shy of it identifies with how much light is twisted, or “refracted,” when it goes through a protest, and how much light of various colors are bent different with each other or “dispersed.'”

A few gemstones are naturally extremely brilliant, which means they have a high refractive record and high dispersion,”giving an illusion of the gem being larger than it actually is, and it becomes colored strongly as the light is broken into many rainbows,” says Cook. diamonds are exceptionally splendid. So is zirconia. As are Swarovski crystal.The particular shape and the chemical makeup of Swarovski (which, once more, they won’t share) join to make them pretty spectacular. In spite of the fact that you’d be hard-put to discover a jeweler who’d agree with you. “In the event that you look carefully, in the light, specifically, a well-sliced crystal is continually going to have more fire and more splendor than a glass gem,” says Walker. In any case, that, truly, is debatable, and also flexible: there’s only so much you can do to a crystal, however a synthetic material like Swarovski crystal has no restrictions. There’s no specific reason to assume that synthetic crystal won’t surpass diamonds in brightness sooner or later.

Swarovski’s strenth is two-fold. In sheer engineering muscle, the organization is unmatched; its crystals aren’t just used for jwelery, but olso for optics (binoculars, military stuff), abrasive tools, and intelligent, LED-based street lighting systems. But, it became a hosehold name thanks to of its marketing and design deparyment. In the mid-1950s, Swarovski worked with Elsa Schiaparelli to design custom made Swarovski crystal for Schiaparelli’s jewelery. Chanel soon followed. Swarovski’s capacity to make, anything an designer needs, is unmatched in the fashion world; a jeweler specialist can’t simply make you an impeccable 3D shape of a sapphire, a neon orange circle, or a dress made of a thousand rubies. Yet, Swarovski can.


The company’s biggest new break came when they partnered with Alexander McQueen for his Spring/Summer 1999 collection. The collection is a perfect example of late 1990s/early 2000s prosperity run amok; it is a raucous, gaudy collection of thousands of sparkly perfect glass crystals, cubic headdresses, and exposed nipples. It brought Swarovski to the attention of Hollywood and New York: here were affordable, but wildly ostentatious gems that are somehow approved by the fashion cognoscenti. For the first time in centuries, it was cool to wear what is, in effect, costume jewelery.

In 2009, speaking to Metro UK about her new pink Bentley convertible (estimated cost: $400,000), Paris Hilton said: “It has Swarovski crystals everywhere. It’s the Paris pink from my brand.” Paris Hilton and Swarovski crystals go together like Britney Spears and denim. Swarovski’s designs following the McQueen show in 1999 were very of the time: aggressive, outsized, luxuriously in-your-face. This was the era of the Swarovski-studded Motorola Razr cellphone. In 2006, the New York Times wrote, “For many people who had never given much thought to crystals, confusing the multifaceted beads with, say, sequins, ‘Swarovski’ is now inextricably tied to fashion.”


Every major designer—Chanel, Louboutin, Louis Vuitton, hell, Ray-Ban even got in the mix—could afford to jump in and do their own crystal riff. And Swarovski was happy to provide the crystals. A giant museum, the Swarovski Kristallwelten, was built in 1995 in Wattens, where the factory is. The Kristallwelten is still one of Austria’s biggest tourist attractions.

The company is less in the limelight than it was 15 years ago, but it’s still a thriving business; it makes the giant crystal that sits atop the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree every year, Rihanna wore a sheer dress covered in thousands of Swarovski crystals to a fashion awards show in 2014, and the company has an annual revenue of over $3.3 billion. Perhaps its strength is that while the ’90s Swarovski fashions look pretty awful by today’s standards, the company’s wares, even though they’re nothing more than bits of colored glass, remain very pretty. Glass is, by definition, malleable.

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