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Chit Chat >> Ask LongLocks >> Swarovski crystals

Message started by bikerbraid on Apr 6th, 2004 at 2:10pm

Title: Swarovski crystals
Post by bikerbraid on Apr 6th, 2004 at 2:10pm
Your hairstick designs use a lot of Swarovski crystals.  You obviously know a lot about these crystals.  What is it about them that makes them so special?

Title: Re: Swarovski crystals
Post by Rapunzel on Apr 7th, 2004 at 7:08am
Oh geez, you're stepping into dangerous territory there... it's a good thing I'm so busy cause I could sit here and write for *hours* about Swarovski!

In a nutshell, I'm sure you are aware that lead crystal, which is the clearest of all glass with the highest clarity, must contain at least 24% lead to qualify as true lead crystal.  Swarovski's crystal is 30% lead and is the clearest crystal of all, with the highest clarity.  The Swarovski factory, which is in Austria, has been in business since the late 19th century and is famous for making outstanding optical devices as well as beads and those fabulous sparkling creatures you see in department stores, not to mention the most spectacular of all crystal chandeliers.  Swarovski is even credited for creating the aurora borealis crystal finish in the 1950s (so you know any jewelry piece you see with stones or beads that have an AB finish absolutely cannot be circa pre 1950s).  Hollywood and designers of haute couture are huge consumers of Swarovski's stunning rhinestones and crystals.

Swarovski's heyday as far as beads was definitely in the middle of the 20th century.  This is when all the fabulous big crystals in all the really spectacular colors were made and such famous names as Vendome and Hobe made upscale designer crystal jewelry pieces using mainly Swarovski beads.  Unfortunately, once big heavy crystal jewelry pieces fell out of favor, Swarovski stopped making the really large beads.  Until very recently you couldn't get any Swaorvski crystals larger than 8mm in any colors other than Crystal or Jet.  Fortunately, they have just recently started manufacturing 10mm beads in some of the modern colors.  Now if they'd just start making 12mm beads (my favorite size for hairsticks) and bring back some of the old fabulous discontinued colors, I'd be a very happy camper!  Unfortunately, Swarovski crystal is so in demand that they have a very hard time just keeping up with orders of the small sizes they currently produce, especially when new colors are introduced, and sometimes the wait can last many months.  Finding vintage crystals in excellent condition and long discontinued sizes and colors is practically a sport with us here at LongLocks... an expensive, time consuming sport but when you are actually lucky enough to find a cache of something really spectacular it's great fun!  I can sniff out a gross package of vintage Swarovski burried underneath fifty years of old brass findings at 20 paces ;)

Cardinal crystals, my favorite Swarovski color and one of the rarest!

I have been told (though I've never tried to verify it) that no single person at Swarovski knows the complete process behind making their crystal, each person only knows the process with which they are directly involved.  This is supposed to keep anyone from defecting from the company and sharing its closely-guarded secrets.  Makes perfect sense to me, absolutely nothing compares to the beauty of Swarovski!

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