If you have traveled through my website or read any of my blog posts, you are already aware of what I am about to tell you. But in case you missed it, my two favorite design elements are pearls and Swarovski crystal. Along with jewelry design, I have studied a lot of the origins of different eras of jewelry, particularly specific pieces like the pearl necklace, for example.
Along those lines, I thought I might share with you a bit of history of the Swarovski crystal. They are really super spectacular at light refraction and so many colors to choose from it can be quite overwhelming sometimes!
Daniel Swarovski, the founder of Swarovski Crystal, was born in Bohemia in a region with history of crystal craftsmanship and his family owned a crystal-cutting company. In 1883, Daniel formed a jewelry company and just 3 years later they had over 70 employees, supplying jewelry for Queen Victoria. Daniel patented his crystal cutting machine in 1891and moved from Bohemia to Wattens, Austria to begin crystal production.
In 1911, Daniel and his family built their own glassworks factory making premium glass. The company excelled from the beginning (except for World War I time.) When the economy flourished in the 1920s, Swarovski became huge in the fashion world, making them famous. During that time, flapper fashion also brought a huge demand for Swarovski designs. (Don’t we love those Flappers?) Shorter women’s hairstyles brought about the crystal fabric headband. Some of the fashion icons Swarovski worked with were Balenciaga, Coco Chanel and Christian Dior!
In the years following World War II, fashion became a huge trend and other Hollywood designers started using Swarovski Crystals. Marilyn Monroe wore them in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” and when she sang happy birthday to President Kennedy. Swarovski Crystals were also used for the Ruby Slippers in “The Wizard of Oz” and they made appearances in “Sabrina” and “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”
In 1956, Daniel collaborated with Christian Dior to create the popular Aurora Borealis (AB) effect named after the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, that is still used to this day and is one of my personal favorites! The effect of the rainbow-like refracted light is gorgeous and was an instant success.
In 1974, the company developed Hotfix technology allowing crystals to be attached to clothing and fabric without metal or plastic settings. In 1989, Swarovski replaced its original Edelweiss logo with the Swan logo, which is used on Swarovski packaging and storefronts around the world.
In 2000, Swarovski introduced the pearl with a crystal core, providing the weight, texture and shine of a natural pearl, combined with the quality of a Swarovski Crystal. I have used these pearls in many designs and love them as much as Freshwater pearls.
Did you know that for 13 years now, Swarovski designed the star on top of the Rockefeller Christmas Tree in New York? It has become an iconic part of New York’s holiday traditions. Last year the star weighed 550 pounds, contained 25,000 crystals and measured over 9.5 feet in diameter. That’s a lot of sparkle!
I hope you enjoyed learning about my favorite sparkly bead. Take a stroll through my website and see if you can spot the crystals or see some examples below!