Of all the Swarovski Group's business units, the company's crystal division is the most profitable, raking in 2.6 billion euros each year. Swarovski crystals are beautiful, sparkly, and durable, so this isn't surprising. Yet they are also affordable, especially when compared to diamonds.
Just how well do Swarovski crystals mimic diamonds? Remember when Marilyn Monroe crooned the sparkly rocks were a girl's best friend in the movie "Gentleman Prefer Blondes"? Well, she wasn't dripping with actual diamonds in that scene, but Swarovski crystals instead!
If you've ever wondered what gives Swarovski crystals their special luster, read on. Here's everything you need to know about the Austrian gems and why they're a cost-effective alternative to precious stones.
The Swarovski brand all began with the vision of one man, Daniel Swarovski. He was born in what was then called Bohemia (now the Czech Republic). The son of a glass cutter, Swarovski inherited his father's skill.
He invented and patented an electric cutting machine which could cut pieces of glass with remarkable accuracy. These man-made gemstones also shone like crazy. Swarovski's dream was to create "a diamond for everyone" -- an innovative product that would have an accessible price yet still be beautiful.
Swarovski set up his crystal factory in Wattens, Austria in 1892. The company remains there to this day. He chose the area for the nearby alpine rivers which provided the hydro-electric power his new crystal cutting machine relied on.
The truth is no one knows exactly how Swarovski crystals are made. It's a protected company secret, staying with 5 generations of Swarovski family members. These family members operate the business to this day.
What we do know is Swarovski makes glass using a mixture of quartz sand, red lead, and sodium carbonate. These ingredients get heated to a very high temperature so they melt together. But the company's most important component may be the potash it adds to the mix.
Potash is organic plant ashes which are rich in potassium. Daniel Swarovski's native country of Bohemia revolutionized the glass industry by adding potash to chalk. The result is a malleable clear glass which can be easily shaped.
Just as important as how the glass is made is the Swarovski manufacturing process. Their factory's patented machines give the crystals their trademark brilliance.
Today the company designs gemstones using computer-aided technology. This calculates the number of angles which will reflect the most light.
Besides its coveted cutting techniques, Swarovski has developed metallic chemical coatings which add special features to its crystals. The most notable of these was introduced in 1955. That year, the company collaborated with famed design house Christian Dior to create an even more spectacular crystal.
It was dubbed the Aurora Borealis effect after the changing hues of the Northern Lights. The result was jewelry with a multicolored shine that shimmers from any angle in every color of the rainbow. It's still a popular crystal the company manufacturers to this day.
Today, the company manufactures a wide selection of jewelry pieces. You'll find earrings, necklaces, bracelets, brooches, rings, and more. A men's collection includes watches, cufflinks, bracelets, and pendants.
Swarovski's product line has expanded over the decades. They sell holiday ornaments, figurines, sunglasses, phone cases, and even hair accessories adorned with the crystals.
Swarovski has partnered with many fashion designers including Alexander McQueen, Elsa Schiaparelli, Chanel, and more. Swarovski is the only go-to crystal company which can create dresses and custom jewelry pieces bedecked in its gemstones.
The company even opened a museum called Swarovski Kristallwelten (Crystal Worlds) in Wattens, Austria. It's a magical world featuring a garden and a building of exhibits which incorporate Swarovski crystals in different ways.
This is a brand that has stood the test of time and is instantly recognizable all over the world. The company is sure to keep evolving, offering new products featuring their glimmering crystals.
Swarovski jewelry has a wide price range with most of its line on the affordable side. Their sheer brilliance and ability to catch the light makes it pretty tough to distinguish them from diamonds.
Swarovski crystals can also imitate precious gems such as emeralds, rubies, and sapphires. Their jewelry always looks great whether it's a delicate necklace paired with a white t-shirt and jeans or a chunky showstopper worn with a little black dress.
If you're looking to save money but still want jewelry that grabs attention, you can't go wrong with Swarovski crystal jewelry. The company also stays abreast of the latest fashion trends by constantly releasing new designs.
Swarovski jewelry may be less expensive than fine jewelry, but it still requires care. Following these tips will keep your jewelry in wearable condition for years to come.
Always remove your Swarovski jewelry before showering and washing. Soaps and cleansers containing harsh chemicals can damage the finish and settings. Avoid allowing skin moisturizer, oils, and makeup to come into contact with it.
You can also clean Swarovski crystal jewelry with mild detergent, a soft-bristled toothbrush, and warm water. Rinse with clean water and dry using a soft towel or cloth.
When you're not wearing your Swarovski jewelry, keep it in a box or compartment designed for jewelry. Or if you've saved the original packaging, place it back in the wrapping it came in.
Now you know more about Swarovski crystal jewelry, the company, and what their crystals are made of. It's time to shop for a piece of your own.
We carry a fine selection of Swarovski crystal necklaces, earrings, bracelets, pendants, and rings. Shop our Swarovski selection to find the perfect piece for you!