Swarovski is one of the great names in the jewellery market. Swarovski is an Austrian producer of glass headquartered in Wattens, Austria, and has existed as a family-owned business since it was founded in 1895 by Daniel Swarovski. In 1892, Daniel Swarovski invented the machine for making precision-cut, beautiful, high-quality lead glass crystals using quartz, sand, and minerals. The exact proportions of these raw materials have to this day remained a company secret.
Swarovski is a type of man-made glass, with a 32% concentration of lead. It’s the presence of lead that gives Swarovski crystals the extra sparkle and brilliance. Swarovski’s patented cutting machine provides a technology-driven cut that creates a high refraction index in the crystals which enhances their sparkle.
Swarovski is expensive due to the production process and precision required in creating each individual Swarovski crystal.
Swarovski’s first foray into television was in a fashion statement by Marlene Dietrich’s character on the film set of a film called Blonde Venus.
This 1932 film was Swarovski’s silver screen debut with jewellery and costumes dripping with the crystals. This film was a trendsetter and thereafter every starlet was draped in Swarovski crystals including most famously Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes when she wore a pink satin gown and glittering jewels, singing “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend”. During her sultry rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ for President John F Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe wore a sheer, flesh-coloured dress with no less than 2,500 Swarovski crystals.
Perhaps the most famous film moment for the Swarovski’s jewellery was with Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Holly Golightly wears a small tiara at certain key moments in the film, and you may have thought it was a diamond tiara but it was in fact made of Swarovski crystals.
How to tell if your Swarovski crystals are real?
As Swarovski crystals are man-made it’s easy to tell the real ones from the imitations.
- There shouldn’t be any bubbles in the crystal – if there are then they are not Swarovski
- All facets should meet and point upwards
- If the crystals are part of the same colour family, they should look identical, not unique
- There should be no scratches on the surface or any oily sheen
- Only Swarovski pearls are sold strung together; crystals are sold loose
- Each crystal should be identical in every way, size and cut
- The crystals should have a high shine comparable to a diamond
- Finally, the crystals should come from an authorised retailer
Swarovski crystals are machine-made so they are far more consistent than organic, naturally-occurring gems. In the case of Swarovski crystals identical crystals are a sign of good workmanship, precision and authenticity whereas diamonds are all unique.
Elka London has a great selection of jewellery featuring Swarovski crystals including rings, necklaces, bracelets, bangles and earrings.