Wednesday, July 6, 2011

What IS a Swarovski Crystal?

If you ask me, I say very pretty, blingy, shiny little things. That is what they are to me.

However, if you tend to be of the more scientific persuasion, then my “know -it-all” geologist husband’s answer may be better suited for you. Essentially he said, “It's a crystal created from naturally occurring materials, fired at extremely high temperatures to fuse it organically at the atomic level, and cooled slowly to create the perfect prism structure which are inherent to crystals.” My best synopsis and interpretation of his “blah, blah, blah.”

Of course, being a sometimes cynical and know it all wife, I researched what my husband told me, just to be sure. So, here is what I did find on Swarovski.


A little history
Daniel Swarovski learned to cut naturally occurring quartz crystals and then he came up with an automated way to cut crystals en masse. He realized that he had found a “gold mine”, pardon the pun, and he patented his technique (he is obviously a very smart man). And, with business partners (another very smart man move), he opened a company in 1895 which specializes in manufacturing crystals.

Their crystal manufacturing company started selling jewelry, home decor (chandeliers and figurines), among many other practical and mundane items of their time. Today, the same company has expanded its reach in technology among the many and more practical and mundane things of our time.


How is a Swarovski crystal made?
I found out that short of flying to Austria to get a special tour, I would have to dig and dig to get that answer. It is, indeed, a very well guarded secret. I do not want the formula, silly, I just want to know the general gist of it. From what I have read, a (Swarovski) crystal is made from natural minerals and quartz sand; and (it) is fired at a high temperature. (I think my know-it-all husband was correct after all.)

Is crystal the same as glass? 
In the world of a know-it-all geologist, the answer is a vehement and absolutely “NO !!!!!!!”  This is said with a minimum of seven exclamation points. That is like asking me (about my very masculine Jack Russell Terrier), “So cute! What is HER name?” You better run and hide. Glass is always man made. Crystals can be naturally occurring. Swarovski crystals are as explained above... “are manufactured using... blah, blah, blah.” This still does not make them glass.

The other difference between glass and a manufactured crystal is that crystal contains lead and glass usually does not. There are other differences, but this is where I want to focus to segway nicely to my next point. The lead in crystal is what makes it like a prism and reflect more colors and light compared to ordinary glass.

So, back to my article, Swarovski crystals have 30% lead content which is what sets them apart from other crystal manufacturers. This also makes their crystals sparkle and shine more than other crystals.

Why do I like using Swarovski crystals in my handmade jewelry design?

They are regarded as the best in their class. They are extremely high quality (most likely the highest) machine cut and polished crystals in the world. They are consistently identical. This is due to the fact that their company have perfected the automated manufacturing, cutting, and production of crystals. They use lasers, high tech computers, mathematicians and scientists! And why not, after all, they had a jump start on everyone else. Not to mention that their company’s focus has never been diluted.

My favorite quote which beautifully segways to my conclusion is from an article I found on Fire Mountain Gems' website titled Swarovski: how to ensure you are getting the real thing. 

“The precision cutting of Swarovski machinery allows each crystal to have its facet juncture pointing up. This means the facet junctures all meet at precisely the same point. This is a similar aspect of diamond faceting.”

So, they are like little diamonds!

And, in the end, I was right all along. Swarovski crystals are simply blingy, shiny, and very pretty little things.

See my handmade jewelry with Swarovski crystal elements.

6 comments:

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