About The Work Room

The Work Room is the Creative Journal of Wendy Sue where she shares her creative journey in all things handmade. The Work Room also offers an alternative to your typical jewelry making workshops. Scroll down to the end of the page to see how you can learn to make your unique piece of artisan jewelry online.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Preciosa vs Swarovski

Don't we all love Swarovski crystals? The reason why Swarovski's crystal outshine all other similar material from any other manufacturer from any other country, lies in the contents of Swarovski crystal. It has no less than 32% lead, making the crystal optically pure to the eyes. Coupled with the patented precision cutting skill of Swarovski, stunning prisms are formed displaying radiant lights at all angles. That is why Swarovski's crystal 'sparkle' as much as they do.

There is this one thing that I read from the internet somewhere eons ago. Can't remember exactly where though. That even if an item such as a bracelet which is sold contains crystals made by Swarovski, describing that item as a "Swarovski bracelet" or a bracelet with Swarovski crystals" is misleading if the bracelet itself is not manufactured by Swarovski. Such a bracelet could only be properly described as "a bracelet with Austrian crystals.

It also seems that any wholesaler/reseller who may have purchased from Swarovski is only allowed, by Swarovski's copyright, to label it for resale as "Austrian crystal"

Swarovski Crystal has been called the most beautiful leaded crystal available. Attempts to duplicate it have failed due to the inability to produce accurately sized precision, faceted stones such as Swarovski's. Competitors' products are considered inferior to those who understand the value and beauty of Swarovski.

Swarovski's clarity and precision is directly related to the amount of lead they sink into their glass. More lead also means more weight per given piece. Therefore, Swarovski crystal does in fact weigh more. There is just something pristinely clear about Swarovski that would no doubt be obvious when placed side by side with a competitor's. Swarovski, simply wears and tears better, over time. Less scratching, less nicking than its competitor because it is a harder, heavier "glass".

Having said that, we now understand why Swarovski crystals cost so much, apart from the crazily wide array of colours and finishes to choose from. Competitors just cannot match that. I've had a hard time searching for the rarer colours simply because not many carry them. Well, that was before I know that Beading.com.my was Swarovski Crystallized's official partner here in Malaysia.

The colours and coatings that they carry is just unbelievable. I don't think competitors could even match up. The best they could is only in producing the more popular colours.

But Swarovski? They are the inventors and innovators. :)

Apart from the usual ones, there were a couple of the more special colours that I have used before. There was Cantaloupe and Alexandrite that changes colour according to light. Dorado and Comet Argent Light have a special coating to them, Dorado being a bronze copperish while CAL a silver one. Then, there were also Bermuda Blue, Crystal Tabac and Heliotrope which are all very special colours that I don't even know how to put down in words except that I think they are just pretty!

You know, I've heard of this saying once.

'There are no crystal in an unattractive colour'.

That could not be more true. :)

As a young boy Daniel often watched the work in his father's business. Later he completed his apprenticeship with his father, as well as at several other crystal-cutters. When, at the age of 21, he visited the "1. Elektrische Ausstellung" (First Electrical Exhibition) in Vienna, he had the idea of his life: the new techniques from Siemens and Edison inspired him to develop a machine for cutting crystal. He worked day and night at realizing his vision. Finally, nine years later (1892), he was ready to register a patent: a machine which, for the first time, made it possible to cut crystal to perfection. It was far faster and more precise than the manual work to date.

Now we understand why Swarovski crystal costs more. The higher price tag is not without a reason.

Nevertheless, I've read on the internet that Preciosa crystal is a good alternative to Swarovski crystals if you are looking for a more cost friendly crystal beads. I have not personally seen nor know of the price of Preciosa crystal before so I can't compare. A browse through their site feels like deja vu though. o_O

However, I did found something interesting from the internet about the link between the two. Whether if it's a fact or not, I do not know since there's no authority on this. That is why I'm saying that it's something interesting.

This is how the story goes.

Preciosa Crystals is older that Swarovski Crystals. Then, like now, Preciosa Crystals was located in Jablonek, Czechoslovakia. Daniel Swarovski worked for Preciosa (under its previous name) in the mid-1800's. He learned all there was to learn about making crystals, and had a nice little career for himself.

Then, as in many times and places throughout history, things got ugly for the Jews. Mr. Swarovski packed up his family and left Jablonek for Austria, and set up shop. Why on Earth he picked Austria, well, nobody knows.

The Swarovskis ran their crystal business, generation after generation, doing moderately well until WWII. How they have weathered WWII when almost all the other Austrian Jews were handed over, well, no information on that either. Some reckon that it's most likely because optical lenses were important for the war effort, and Swarovski made the best.

After WWII, however, Swarovski did incredibly well. Preciosa in Jablonek still made beads and crystals, but weren't able to put a lot of resources into research and development. The Soviet Union saw no compelling reason for investing in bead-making companies, though the optic portion of the company did well. Their beady customers were mostly from within, and they were largely forgotten in the West. Swarovski put a ton of money into R&D, expanded their product line, and became THE company to beat for lead crystal.

In 1989, the Soviet Union began to crumble, and by 1990, the Czech Republic was looking at itself to see which industries would be salable in the West, and provide hard currency.

Unsurprisingly, Preciosa became one of the newly privatized companies that is becoming well known in the West.

Now, that's something interesting we never know about.
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Postscripts:
Wendy from Diary of a Miniature Enthusiast run a very good article on how to distinguish between the genuine and fake Swarovski crystal beads. You may want to check them out here. Thing is, passing off an inferior item as someone else's more superior product is just downright WRONG. Such sellers are not only unethical but in violation of copyright and trademark laws. I think it's not as bad if they stated from the onset that they are replica at a fraction of the price of the genuine ones and it's then up to the customers whether if they still want to proceed with the sale, after considering their budget. But to mislead buyers into buying what it's not is just despicable.

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1 hollers:

wendy said...

Hie again Wendy :), This article is really interesting. Gave me lots of input too bout the history of crystal making as well. Thanks a bunch!

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