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January 12, 2018
While shopping SUMARIS, you may have noticed that Susan often incorporates Swarovski crystal findings in her designs. If you don't already own one of these pieces, you may have at some point been gifted a collectible Swarovski crystal figurine or wandered into a Swarovski retail store. Swarovski even has its own line of jewelry. Do you know the origins of Swarovski and what makes it so special?
Invented by Daniel Swarovski in the late 1800s, Swarovski is a brand of manmade lead crystal glass. Mr. Swarovski was a master crystal cutter who learned the craft while serving as an apprentice at his father’s glass factory in the Czech Republic. Upon experimenting with crystal formulations, he discovered that adding lead to the crystal allowed it to refract more light. Determined to improve the cutting process, he also invented an electric cutting machine that could cut crystal facets with high-quality precision.
Today, other manufacturers also produce lead glass crystal, but Swarovski is still considered the best, due to its high lead content and precision-cut facets. Authentic Swarovski crystal is only made in Austria.
You may be wondering how Swarovski crystal differs from materials like natural quartz crystal or cubic zirconia.
Swarovski crystal shares some qualities with natural quartz crystal. For example, both Swarovski crystal and natural crystal contain silicon dioxide. However, natural crystal has 99% or more silicon dioxide content, while Swarovski has 80% or less. Obviously, natural crystal is mined from the earth, while Swarovski is manmade. For a more in-depth explanation of differences, read this article.
Swarovski crystal and cubic zirconia are both manmade and can be faceted to look like a polished and cut gemstone. However, they have different chemical structures. Using a high-temperature method, cubic zirconia is created from zirconium oxide, while Swarovski is made from a blend of silicon dioxide and lead. On the Moh’s scale of mineral hardness, cubic zirconia is closer in hardness to rubies (8-9), while Swarovski is closer in hardness to peridot and tanzanite (6-7).
Swarovski crystal in its pure form is transparent and colorless, but special heated coatings can give it color. You can see a full list of coatings here. One popular coating is known as “AB” or “Aurora Borealis”, which is an iridescent finish that gives the crystal a rainbow-like apperance.
Now that you know a little more about Swarovski crystal, check out how Susan incorporates it into her designs. Here are five examples:
Our MALTESA earrings include smoky-quartz-colored, checkerboard-cut square Swarovski crystals, in two sizes. They’re perfectly complemented by vintage faux pearl teardrops. These earrings are a great example of how well Swarovski can pair with vintage elements and how the crystal can be faceted in interesting ways.
Our ICE SPEAR earrings are an example of the “AB” or “Aurora Borealis” finish described earlier in this blog post. Even though the crystal is transparent, it has a rainbow-like sheen on the surface. Two different shapes of faceted Swarovski crystal play together in dancing harmony.
In our PARTY TIME necklace, Swarovski crystal joins a party with Lucite and a vintage rhinestone brooch. The crystal beads - especially the dangling magenta briolettes - offer the perfect textural contrast to the other materials in this necklace.
Even though Swarovski crystal is beautiful on its own, it can play an important accent detail in an otherwise bold necklace. See how the delicate Swarovski beads complement the chunky, caramel-colored Lucite in ROSY FINGERED DAWN. They also play upon some of the sparkle in the vintage rhinestone brooch.
Who would think you could improve upon the stunning and unique vintage hairpiece used as the centerpiece of the TANGO necklace? Swarovski crystals strung together as the chain and dangling from the centerpiece offer the perfect accents and bring an element of surprise.
Do you collect Swarovski? What do you like best about this exquisite crystal?
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