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What is crystal?

Who has never at some time been captivated by the magical sparkle of crystals? Adults and children alike are drawn to the myriad colours emanating from these prism-like glass gems.

Not to be confused with naturally forming crystal, these sparklers are manufactured from glass, which is then skilfully cut and polished to produce items such as beads for jewellery, vases and so on. 
Swarovski Crystal Sapphire Pendant
The House of Swarovski 

This world-renowned company with its familiar ‘Swan’ logo is considered the market leader in the production of fabulous crystal.

We see samples of their products all around us from tiny crystal sculptures to magnificent chandeliers. Often, the sparkle we see on stage and screen when only the best will do, is courtesy of the house of Swarovski.

It is thought that the origins of glass go back to ancient Mesopotamia. Archaeologists have managed to unearth early samples of surprisingly good quality that date back to around 3000BC. Over the centuries, techniques in glass manufacture using the basic raw materials of silica (sand), lime and potash have been perfected, including the addition of lead which improved its sparkle and brilliance.

Glass manufacture spread to Europe and flourished in Venice in the 13th century. The industry expanded from there and by the mid 1800s, Bohemia became recognised as one of the top regions for quality glass and crystal.  

Daniel Swarovski
It was in this environment, in 1862, that Daniel Swarovski was born into a family of Bohemian glass cutters. He had the opportunity to watch closely the skilled cutters at work, and study their techniques. He entered the family business and served his apprenticeship. At this time, glass cutting was a long slow process with inevitable inaccuracies.
It was Daniel Swarovski's forward vision, after a visit to an Electrical Exhibition, that made him realise the possibility of automating the cutting process. He worked on designs for such a machine and succeeded in producing one which far exceeded the quality of crystal cutting at that time, a standard which has been maintained right up to the present day.

Swarovski needed a reliable and suitable water supply to operate his equipment, so he and his family re-located to Wattens, in Austria, where his business went from strength to strength.

To ensure only the highest standard of raw material for their crystal cutting and polishing, in 1913 Swarovski and his three sons expanded into glass manufacture. The flawless quality and brilliance of the crystal they produced was highly acclaimed and much sought after.
Swarovski Crystal Galactic Pendant

New Innovations 

The Swarovski crystals' fame spread round the world and were used by top fashion designers and jewellers in their creations. One fashion trend was to embroider gowns with pearls and crystals. Swarovski saw an opportunity and invented a crystal set fabric ribbon, which could be sewn onto all manner of articles.

Constantly striving for the highest quality and innovation, the Swarovski company explored new methods of production. In the 1950s they developed a process which coated the stones with metal particles. This had an enormous effect on the crystals, not only increasing their sparkle but radiating a rainbow of colours. This crystal was named "Aurora Borealis" and is still popular today. This lead to further creations of crystals with special colours and effects such as the Mood stone which changes colour depending on the wearer's mood, and the Scent stone which can be filled with perfume.

Other products

Although the name of Swarovski is synonymous with quality crystal, the group are also involved in the manufacture of synthetic gemstones, cutting tools under the brand name of Tyrolit, reflective road markings and optical instruments. However, it will be for its beautiful crystals that Swarovski will remain a household name, gracing the 'A' list celebrities in their designer creations, but still affordable for the rest of us to appreciate and enjoy wearing.
Swarovski Crystal Section of our catalogue
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