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The History of Swarovski Crystal
Swarovski crystal figurines and jewelry items are renowned the world over for their breathtaking beauty and intricate detail. But believe it or not many collectors are not aware of the rich history behind the manufacturing process of these magnificent works of crystalline art.
The Swarovski company was founded by Daniel Swarovski in 1895 in Wattens, Austria. When Daniel was growing up the industrial age was well on its way. This created the perfect nurturing environment for his creative and industrious spirit. His experiments with glass cutting and machinery soon led to his invention of a machine that would mechanically cut and polish glass, a process which up to this point had been done only by hand. The company was spectacularly successful and was soon creating glass crystal for everyone from the optics industry to the jewelry and fashion industries. Their success has never diminished and continues to this day.
While Swarovski still manufactures glass for various industries and while Swarovski jewelry such as rings, earrings, bracelets and necklaces are quite popular they are most well known for the stunningly beautiful collectible animal figurines they create known as "Swarovski Silver Crystal". In 1974 designer Max Schreck started a new product line rather accidentally when he built a tiny mouse out of glass chandelier parts on a whim. Soon to follow was a series of crystal animals, the most famous of which were crystal lovebirds. Today Swarovski's Silver Crystal division is a major part of the company.
How a Swarovski crystal figurine is created is a closely guarded secret. In the beginning the figurines were manufactured from random chandelier parts the company had available. This soon changed to the modern process which is quite a bit more complex to say the least. Initially the designers will study a proposed subject by going through photos, books, etc. Once a design is decided upon they create a rough model. From this point it is passed on to a team of engineers who create a series of blueprints from the model. These blueprints are of the separate pieces of the design. A team of machinists then create the tools necessary to create these pieces and bond them together. Based on how complex the figurine is there can be anywhere from 5 to 50 separate pieces required! These pieces are manufactured by pouring molten glass into molds. The glass is heated and cooled multiple times which anneals it, a process which strengthens the glass and prevents it from shattering. Once finally cooled the pieces are tested for clarity. Only an absolutely perfect piece is allowed to go onto the final stages where it is precision ground, polished and glued together with all of the other pieces using transparent glue.
This is quite an involved process and seeing how much work goes into each Swarovski figurine makes one truly appreciate the craftsmanship involved!