What is Swarovski? (The Best Guide!)

Posted on 30 November 2018

The terms “Swarovski” or “Swarovski crystals” are popular in the jewelry industry, though many people are still uncertain as to what it actually means. However, “Swarovski” has become synonymous with high quality glass crystals.

Here’s the deal:

There are a lot of questions regarding Swarovski, Swarovski crystals, and Swarovski price. Thankfully, we have a lot of answers. In this blog post, you’ll find answers to questions like “Who is Swarovski,” “What is Swarovski crystal made of,” “Are Swarovski crystals safe to wear,” “Which is better: Swarovski crystals, cubic zirconia, or real diamonds,” and many more! The history of Swarovski, both the man and the company, is an inspirational story detailing the development of a multi-billion dollar company. Keep reading to find out all you need to know about Swarovski, the Swarovski company, and Swarovski crystals!

#1 Who is Swarovski?

daniel swarovski

Daniel Swarovski was born in 1862 in Northern Bohemia (what is now the Czech Republic). Swarovski’s father was a glass cutter and owned a small glass factory, where Swarovski became an apprentice. In 1892, Swarovski invented and patented an electric cutting machine that used hydro-electricity to produce crystal glass. This machine allowed crystals to be cut more precisely than by hand, as they were done before the invention of the machine.

In 1895, Swarovski, Franz Weis, and financier Armand Kosmann founded the Swarovski company, which was originally titled, A. Kosmann, Daniel Swarovski & Co., or K.S. & Co. for short. The company was founded in Wattens, Austria where they took advantage of the local hydroelectricity.

In 1935, Swarovski’s son, Wilhelm, created a custom made pair of binoculars, which later developed into the Swarovski Optik that was launched 14 years later. In 1956, Daniel Swarovski and Christian Dior developed an “Aurora Borealis” effect in the crystal, causing an explosion of rainbow sparkles to come to the surface of the crystals. The Swarovski company is in its 5th generation and remains a family-owned company.

Today, the Swarovski company is split into 3 major industry areas:

  • The Swarovski Crystal Business
  • This part of the company primarily produces lead glass jewelry and accessories, which are commonly called crystal jewelry.

  • Swarovski Optik
  • This portion of the company produces optical instruments, such as binoculars, telescopes and telescopic sights for rifles.

  • Tyrolit
  • Tyrolit is a supplier of tools and machines, as well as a manufacturer of grinding, sawing, dressing and drilling tools.

     15 Things You Didn't Know About Swarovski

    #2 What are Swarovski Crystals Made Of?

    So, what exactly is a Swarovski crystal? Swarovski crystal is a brand of man-made lead glass crystal that are now the standard against which all other lead glass crystals are judged. Originally, glass crystals were made with lime and silica, or alkali. Daniel Swarovski added lead to the mixture, which gave the crystal a better light refraction and thus a better sparkle.

    Though Swarovski won’t reveal its manufacturing process, it is known that a Swarovski crystal is made of quartz sand and natural minerals. The exact proportion of these ingredients has remained a company secret and the process has been patented by Swarovski. However, the actual product is a form of man-made glass and is composed of 32% concentration of lead.

    The 32% of lead content is necessary to increase the crystal’s refraction index to resemble that of a diamond. This lead content increases the refraction index from 1.5 to 1.7 to give the face more facets and a more sparkly appearance. A Swarovski crystal has a Mohs Hardness of between 6 and 7, which means that it is susceptible to scratches and chips due to wear. However, it is harder than standard glass.

    mohs hardness scale

    Here’s the process:

    How is a Swarovski crystal made? Well, authentic Swarovski crystals are produced only in Austria from the family-owned Swarovski company.

    First, silicon oxide power (or, glass) is mixed with lead and melted at a high temperature.

    To produce a diamond-like effect, the Swarovski’s patented cutting machine allows for a technology-driven cut that is so precise that as many as 100 facets can be created to bend and mirror light in various directions.

    After this complex cutting process, the Swarovski crystal is then polished using a patented process that gives the crystal a high quality finish.

    Some crystals are further enhanced by finishes or coatings, such as the Aurora Borealis (AB) crystals, which have a metallic coating. This coating refracts light in a rainbow spectrum, resembling the way a diamond’s surface disperses light.

    #3 What is Swarovski Crystal Worth?

    Swarovski crystals are more expensive than regular glass due to its fine materials and a complicated manufacturing process. However, Swarovski crystals are cheaper than cubic zirconia due to the complicated manufacturing process and materials used in CZ.

    The price of Swarovski jewelry is determined, in part, by what is popular in jewelry trends. For instance, in the 1990’s, there was a huge hype around Swarovski crystals, and the high demand increased the price of these items.

    The value of a Swarovski piece is also determined by its current availability or rarity, its historical value, and its replacement value. Estimating value is not always easy, though Annemarie van Orsouw is an avid Swarovski collector and has developed a few tips to determine the value of your Swarovski crystal pieces.

    In general, the following 6 factors determine the worth, or price of Swarovski crystals:

    what is swarovski crystal worth
  • Limited Edition Sets
  • To create exclusive products, Swarovski only creates a certain number of each product, and once the set number is reached, the piece is discontinued. Limited edition Swarovski pieces will remain more valuable, though they are still dependent on the market and demand.

    Some examples of these limited edition sets are the figurines made in the 1970’s and the decorative pieces made in the 1980’s.

  • Swarovski Logo
  • The Swarovski logo is essentially the hallmark that determines if it is authentically made from the Swarovski company. If the item does not have the Swarovski logo (now the iconic swan logo), then this is a good way to distinguish authentic pieces from fake pieces. However, it is also important to keep in mind that from 1899 to 1988, Swarovski used the Edelweiss Logo.

  • Condition
  • Since Swarovski pieces are made of extremely durable glass that does not show traces of ageing, Swarovski rarely loses its excellent condition. However, the glue used on older pieces can sometimes have discoloration. Also, a Swarovski piece can be broken or chipped, which will decrease its value.

  • Packaging
  • Swarovski boxes are particularly important for annual editions, limited editions, and numbered editions because they are specific to the item and cannot be replaced. The packages or boxes that certain Swarovski items come in only fit that specific figurine and protect that piece perfectly, so having the original Swarovski box will increase the value of a Swarovski crystal piece.

  • Certificates
  • The Swarovski certificate of authenticity is important to the value of any Swarovski item, but especially for the annual, limited, and numbered editions. The edition number on the certificate must match the number on the crystal and it cannot be swapped for another certificate of authenticity because the numbers would not match.

  • Complete Sets
  • Having a complete set will add value to your Swarovski collection. Swarovski produced a lot of series and annual editions, such as the Chinese Zodiac Collection and the Disney Figurine Collection.

    #4 Are Swarovski Diamonds Real?

    swarovski crystals

    In addition to Swarovski crystals, the Swarovski company started to cut zirconia in 1976, creating Swarovski Zirconia. Swarovski zirconia is a machine-cut synthetic crystalline substance, and not a real diamond; it is not a synthetic diamond, but a diamond imitation.

    Pure Brilliance Swarovski Zirconia is the most diamond-like zirconia on the market, and is frequently used as a diamond imitation for jewelry. The difference between synthetic diamonds and Swarovski zirconia lies in their chemical properties: synthetic diamonds are an exact replication of natural diamonds and are produced in a laboratory (versus being mined like real diamonds), whereas diamond imitations (like Swarovski zirconia) are composed of materials that visually resemble diamonds, but do not share the same chemical characteristics of real diamonds.

    #5 Are Swarovski Crystals Safe to Wear?

    swarovski crystal

    Though lead is a toxic substance, wearing the glass crystal jewelry that has a high concentration of lead is not, in fact, harmful to the body. The lead in the Swarovski crystal is what gives the Swarovski jewelry item the extra sparkle and brilliance. The lead oxide in Swarovski crystals is completely safe to wear.

    HOWEVER: if you were to ingest this product, that would be a completely different story! Since lead oxide is not safe to ingest, we suggest you don’t do this.

    #6 Which is Better: Swarovski Crystals, Cubic Zirconia, or Real Diamonds?

    Swarovski Crystals

    As mentioned above, Swarovski crystals are man-made lead glas, not a natural gemstone or crystal. It is made by melting silicon oxide powders at high temperatures to form a “lead crystal.” In comparison to cubic zirconia and real diamonds, Swarovski crystals are lowest on the Mohs Scale of Hardness at around a 6 or 7, meaning that they are more easily scratched or chipped than cubic zirconia and real diamonds.

    Cubic Zirconia

    Cubic zirconia (commonly referred to as CZ) is the most popular man-made diamond substitute because, to the untrained eye, real diamonds and CZ look identical. CZ is made from zirconium dioxide; though this is a different material with a different chemical composition than real diamonds, it comes closer than any other gem to matching the characteristics of a diamond.

    Natural CZ was discovered in 1899, though man-made CZ did not come into production for us in jewelry until the 1970’s. CZ crystals are made by melting powdered zirconium and zirconium dioxide together and heating them to 4,982 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the heating process is over, the CZ crystal is cut into the design and shape of a diamond. Different colors can also be added to make the CZ crystal resemble a diamond more. CZ is much more affordable than a diamond: a flawless 1 carat diamond is around $7,000, whereas a flawless 1 carat CZ can be as low as $10. The price of CZ can go up to hundreds of dollars, though, depending on the quality of the CZ.

    Though, on first impression, CZ resembles a diamond, closer inspection reveals its differences. For instance, CZ has a gravity of 5.6 and 6.0, which means that it is 1.6 times the weight of a diamond. On the Mohs Scale of Hardness, it is listed as an 8 (versus diamond, which is a 10). CZ has a refraction index of 2.176 and a dispersive power of 0.060, which means that it is not as hard as a diamond and is less sparkly than a diamond. However, CZ displays more prismatic fire than a diamond, which means that it displays more color sparkles.

    Another main point of distinction between CZ and real diamonds are that natural diamonds display impurities, whereas CZ does not. CZ is also clear in color (and diamonds are not), but CZ can be colored by adding metal oxides in the production process. CZ is more brittle than diamonds and more susceptible to wear and tear, such as chipping and scratches over time, so it is important to take care of CZ jewelry more so than diamond jewelry.

    CZ is more durable than Swarovski crystals and can be cut with more facets. This offers better light refraction than Swarovski crystals, and thus a better sparkle.

    swarovski crystals

    Real Diamonds

    Real diamonds are naturally occurring gems composed of carbon atoms that are arranged in a particular structure. Real diamonds are extremely hard and rank 10 on Mohs Scale of Hardness from 1 - 10. Diamonds are extremely expensive in price but the price is also governed by the 4 c’s: carat, cut, color, and clarity. It is rare to find a diamond that doesn’t contain flaws, and most diamonds are tinged with yellow or brown.

    Diamonds have a high refractive index of 2.417 and a dispersion of 0.044, which means that there is a separation of the color spectrum as light leaves the diamond material and as it enters the air. The angle of refraction bends and separates the white light into different colors, giving us a color spectrum.

    #7 What Makes Swarovski Crystals So Special?

    what makes swarovski crystals so special

    Swarovski crystals are so special due to 2 main reasons: Swarovski’s secret, patented chemical formula; and Swarovski’s patented high-precision cutting machine. The combination of both of these elements is what creates the world-renowned Swarovski crystals.

    Besides the production process, Swarovski crystals are special due to the particular Swarovski company. The company produces way more than just crystals: they create telescopes, binoculars, abrasive tools, and even road lighting systems. Overall, the company is one of the most innovative and creative: from the giant crystal on top of the Rockefeller Center’s Christmas tree to covering designer items with thousands of Swarovski crystals, there is nothing that Swarovski can’t create!

    #8 How Can You Tell If a Swarovski Crystal is Real?

    how can you tell if a swarovski crystal is real

    Swarovski crystals are regarded as the highest quality machine-cut and polished crystals in the world, so it’s important to determine whether your Swarovski crystals are real! Unfortunately, the high demand for luxury items, such as Swarovski crystals, tends to produce a lot of imitators.

    The Swarovski company creates its products with a special compound that produces an incredible brilliance and a color palette that imitators cannot replicate. But, with so many different crystals out there, how do you determine which is real Swarovski and which is an imitation?

    Luckily, we’ve got some tips to help you determine if a Swarovski crystal is real:

  • Swarovski crystals are generally not strung → The only exception is Swarovski pearls.
  • Find the original Swarovski packaging → The newest Swarovski bulk packaging is sealed with an authentic silver-toned hologram that states, “Swarovski Crystal.”
  • Swarovski crystals are perfectly uniform → Since Swarovski crystals are machine-cut, each crystal is the same with the same height, width, and slope.
  • Each crystal is precisely cut → According to Swarovski, “cutting hard materials such as crystal and gems, in such a way that they have a hundred identical facets in several directions, is a very complicated task; each direction of the reflected light must first be calculated by computer, then this has to be simulated in 3D, optimized and finally converted into control programs for complex machinery.” This complicated technology is not easy to replicate.
  • Facet juncture “pointing up” → This means that the facet junctures of all Swarovski crystals all meet at precisely the same points.
  • AB Swarovski crystals have a uniform surface luster → The AB finish does not produce any swirling marks unlike the imitation Swarovski pieces, which often have scratches or swirls, giving the imposters an “oily”-looking surface.
  • No bubbles inside the crystal → If you see any bubbles inside the crystal, you can be sure it is fake.
  • Swarovski crystal will out-sparkle its competitors → Because of its special glass compounds, Swarovski crystal will have more sparkle than any of its competitors, without a doubt.

  • Here’s a little recap:

    And there you have it:

    Your complete guide to Swarovski! We hope this guide clarified any and all questions you have regarding Swarovski crystals or Swarovski jewelry, and you understand now what is Swarovski! For any other questions you may have, please do not hesitate to ask! Feel free to send us your questions, thoughts, or comments in our comments section below!

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