Swarovski: The jewelry manufacturer in haute couture – Prada, Chanel, McQueen
Swarovski – 125 years, that’s how long the world-famous jewelry manufacturer has been making the eyes of its customers shine. The family business is known everywhere for its affordable jewelry. Despite the low prices, quality is already for the founder Daniel Swarovski, the measure of all things with his products. Noble and yet not expensive – this is how Swarovski made its way into the hearts of many jewelry lovers.
Foundation, target group and breakthrough: from industrial supplier to well-known brand name company
The company was founded in 1895 by Daniel Swarovski from Bohemia. Today already in the 5th generation. Everything began with an invention: a grinding machine, manufactured in 1892, was the first foundation stone for the foundation of the internationally renowned company. As the son of a glass factory owner, he was always fascinated by the sparkle of crystals and the refraction of light. Inspired by an electrical exhibition in Vienna, he invented a machine that could cut crystal gemstones faster than by hand. In addition to speed, this machine offers one thing above all: cost-effective production. As will be shown later, this will be an important criterion for success.
In order to escape the competition and make a name for himself outside the center of the glass and crystal industry, he chose the location of Wattens. This brought everything he needed: a large, remote area and sufficient water sources for production. Today, the Swarovski company premises occupy a large part of the small town. The manufacturing process of the crystals is still secret to this day; only the closest circle of acquaintances is allowed to know the secrets of production. The only thing known is that the stones are made of quartz sand, which is processed with a viscous mass and then finally brought into shape.
Today Markus Langes-Swarovski is the managing director of the company. Due to cheap competition from China, Swarovski suffered an economic slump, but since 2015 the company has regained its composure and has an annual turnover of 3.4 billion euros.
Swarovski’s jewelry is not aimed at a specific target group, they want to produce jewelry for ‘everyone’ and are trying to get closer to the consumers with their orientation. Because stylish jewelry should not only be a gift from the rich.
In production, more than 600 researchers work daily to improve and optimize the quality of the crystals. Whether it is the purity of the crystals, the precision of the cut or the performance of the machines – quality management and analysis are a priority at Swarovski. Special quality, special brilliance and a refined cut – the standard principle that Swarovski follows with every oh-so-small stone.
The jewelry manufacturer can produce more than 100,000 different shapes, colors and facets of crystal jewelry stones. Special highlights are among others:
The smallest crystal stone in the world with a diameter of only 0.8 millimeters, but an amazing 17 facets. To celebrate the company’s 100th anniversary, Swarovski also produced the world’s largest gemstone, the “Swarovski Centenary”, which even made it into the Guinness Book of Records. It measures 40 centimeters in diameter and sparkles from 100 facets. The two crystals can be admired in the Crystal Worlds.
Crystal Worlds: A small Swarovski World
In 1995, Swarovski crystal was given its own world: the “Crystal Worlds”. Tours through the Chambers of Wonder and the garden allow visitors to immerse themselves in the world of fantasy. To make sure that even the youngest visitors do not get bored, there are also playgrounds for children on the grounds. So if you are looking for a nice idea for your next family outing, Wattens is the place to be.
In its Crystal Worlds, the largest crystal manufacturer in the world presents special features from its long company history. Among them are, as already mentioned, the “Swarovski Centenar” and the smallest crystal stone in the world. In addition to the exhibitions, there is also a pop-up store where you can purchase Swarovski products and souvenirs from your trip.
More than just jewelry manufacturers
If there is one thing you cannot blame Swarovski for, it is one-sidedness. There is more behind Swarovski than just another jewelry manufacturer. The family business has created an entire empire for itself. Over 27,000 people work for the company in a wide variety of fields. Here is a small overview of what all belongs to the product world of the Austrian company.
Necklaces, bracelets – everything the heart desires
In addition to the classic rings, necklaces and bracelets, the brand also offers watches, cell phone cases, pendants and ballpoint pens. All articles receive the certain Swarovski touch and the completely special sparkle by the in-house crystals. At Swarovski, progressive designs with new colors, shapes and facets are available every season. 16,300 types of crystals in 70 colors and 40 effects belong to Swarovski.
Swarovski’s logo, the swan, is also always present. Various necklaces pick up the logo as main motif in different colors. A swan is also attached to the clasp of the jewelry pieces, among other things also decorated with individual crystals.
But whoever thought the swan was always the distinctive mark of Swarovski, was wrong: An alpine edelweiss, a flower from Austria, was the logo in the early years and stood for the origin of the company. The plant was to stand for the Alps and the purity of the environment. However, in the 70-80s the edelweiss was replaced by today’s famous swan. Pieces that are still marked with the old logo are considered very valuable.
Necklaces and pendants
When you think of Swarovski jewelry, most people immediately think of the popular necklaces and pendants: Impressive necklaces or classic everyday necklaces, everything is there! In addition to the swan, Swarovski’s logo, Swarovski also offers other unusual pendants, such as a blue eye, a rainbow or a snowflake. If you already own a necklace, you can also just buy pendants to give your necklace a new look. Star sign chains or birthstones serve as popular gift ideas.
From small ear studs to long earrings that already wrap around the shoulders, everything is in the Swarovski range. From unobtrusive but charming to extravagant and loud, everything can be found. The Swarovski crystals either sparkle on long earrings with a crescent moon at the bottom or are available as a pearl watch ring with the famous swan as a distinguishing feature. A highlight in the Swarovski range: the Disney collection. Especially cute are the little Mickie Mouse earrings. A must-have for every Disney fan.
Bracelets were already an issue in school days: back then, it was the famous friendship bracelets that conquered the schoolyard, whether homemade or bought. But this small proof of friendship is not only for the little ones. Adults can also wear a symbol of their solidarity on their arm. Choose from the different motifs and find something that symbolizes your friendship!
The little sparkle on your finger should not be missing. A ring is not only perfect as a proof of love for fiancés and couples. Swarovski rings can be discreet or eye-catching, just like the other jewelry items. Whether with engraving or without: rings are timeless and match every outfit. Whether only one on one hand, several on one finger or five pieces spread over 10 fingers. Sometimes Swarovski already offers several rings in a set. The crystal manufacturer also offers unusual motifs such as small bees or lucky cloverleaves to decorate the fingers.
Swarovski likes to present collections that can be added to a set or harmonize with each other in various combinations. If you do not want to buy just one single piece and have fallen particularly in love with a Swarovski motif, you can buy a complete set directly. The set contains two or three pieces of jewelry with the same design, in the two-piece set in most cases, for example, necklaces and earrings. The complete set is not only for jewelry lovers who want to give themselves more pleasure, but also a perfect gift idea for their partner or mother.
Not only the ladies can benefit from the shine of the crystals, but also the men. Swarovski offers both unisex models with simple designs and men’s models. These models are mainly decorated with cufflinks, which, with the help of crystals, are given the unique Swarovski shine. In addition to the cuff links Swarovski offers leather and stainless steel bracelets and necklaces. Not as colorful and gaudy as in the ladies, the jewelry of the men is mostly plain-colored with black stones. Popular motives are crosses or skulls.
Where there is jewelry, watches are not far away. That’s the way it is in a department store and that’s also the way it is with Swarovski. The family business not only wants to make a name for itself in the world of jewelry, but also wants to bring its own watches to women and men. Here too: the typical Swarovski swan. On every Swarovski watch the swan rings the 12th hour. The different models in silver, gold or rose gold are usually available in two to five different shades.
Crystal figures: “Crystal Living”
It all started with a little mouse: In 1976 the first crystal figure of Swarvoski was born. Today they are considered collectors’ items and have a “Collectors Society” with 450,000 members in 35 countries. The models are available in various colors and sizes. Small figures bears, Disney figures or even the Batmobile are available in a price range of 30€-26.000€. Due to the large selection of motifs, the models are very suitable as gifts.
Special collections include the exclusive “Crystal Myriad” line, which creates precious pieces by hand using the Pointiage® technique, and the “Crystalline” line, which makes decorative objects such as candlesticks, vases, wine glasses and picture frames sparkle. The bestseller in the decoration line is a champagne goblet. With these product lines you bring authentic design and pure elegance into your home. Pieces that never lose their magic and always remain contemporary.
Swarovski has made a name for itself – but not only as a jewelry manufacturer. If you take a closer look at our world, you will find products from this traditional company everywhere.
This is where it all begins: if you need help with far-sightedness, you can use binoculars from Swarovski Optik. In the craft sector, for example, the company manufactures grinding and drilling tools under the Tyrolit brand. So that our roads remain safe: reflectors for traffic signs were already being manufactured by the family business under the name “Swareflex” in 1940. Swarovski even moved into the castle of Versailles: The company provides the lighting in the restored chambers of the former French royal castle. Swarovski also took a trip into the world of beauty: with its own perfume creation called “Aura”, the first beauty product was launched in 2011.
If Swarovski’s sparkle should definitely not be missing in any season, then it is in the Christmas season. A little tip from us: keep your eyes open at Christmas. Swarovski is also involved in decorating Christmas trees, for example in Berlin or the Rockefeller Christmas tree in New York.
How do you bring Swarovski into fashion? – Chanel, McQueen and Co.
Swarovski is not necessarily the first brand that pops into your head when it comes to ‘fashion’, but everyone has probably admired Swarovski on a piece of clothing. Decades of collaboration have given Swarovski a firm place in fashion. Numerous designers have chosen the jewelry label as a cooperation partner for their collections. Well-known names such as Coco Chanel, Alexander McQueen and Jean Patou were convinced of the effect of Swarovski crystals and put them in the spotlight in their collections.
Swarovski 125th Anniversary Fashion Highlights
It is impossible to imagine current fashion without crystal stones. A glittering glitter decorates not only dresses and T-shirts, but also accessories such as handbags and shoes. The relationship between Swarovski and fashion is almost as old as the jewelry manufacturer itself. In honor of its long history in the fashion world, Swarovski received an award, namely the 2013 Vienna Fashion Award in the category Tribute to Fashion and Lifestyle. To mark its 125th birthday, Swarovski looks back on the highlights of its fashion history:
First steps in Haute-Couture
Charles Frederick Worth, who worked as a couturier for the nobility and royal houses, was the first to ensure that Swarovski crystals found their way into the royal apartments. Among his customers was Queen Victoria.
It was the first time that crystal found its place as a material in fashion, and this attracted the attention of the couturiers of the time. Many fashion designers liked the possibilities of using the stone in fashion and they also put Swarovski crystals in their collections. Through these collections, Swarovski made its first steps into the world of fashion, directly in the premium and luxury segment. The costume jewelry they produced also played a major role in this.
The wild twenties did not stop the success: in the era of flapper dresses and jazz, designers such as Jeanne Lanvin, Madeleine Vionnet and Jean Patou made dresses shine through the sparkling crystals while dancing.
Swarovski and Chanel and Dior
Robert Goossens was commissioned by Chanel in 1953 to produce crystals for the luxury fashion house Chanel. The designer Coco Chanel decorated her fashion collections by sewing Swarovski crystals onto the ribbons and trimmings, adding highlights to her fashion pieces. For presentational purposes such as fashion shows, however, she only used copies and no real crystals. After the presentation in the production for the customers, the original jewels and real gold were of course used again. Curious? One of the Chanel Borschen will be exhibited in the Crystal Worlds.
Besides Chanel, Elsa Schiaparelli and Cristobal Balenciaga also made the silhouettes of the women sparkle. The new trend of the 5o’s epoch was born.
The “Aurora Borealis” caused a lot of attention at Christian Dior. This is a crystal effect, which owes its name to the shimmering rainbow spectrum of the northern lights. Christian Dior used this crystal effect and embroidered his clothes by hand with these unique crystals. The high quality creations are still kept in the archive.
Years after Daniel’s death, connections to the fashion industry were weakened, and in 1995 Nadja Swarovski tried to regain a foothold in the fashion world by joining the company.
Her collaboration with the designer Alexander McQueen in 1999 ensured this: together with him she pursued the mission of bringing crystal back into fashion. McQueen kri
This was not the only collaboration between McQueen and Swarovski: his spring/summer 2009 collection, entitled ‘Natural Dis-tinction, Un-Natural Selection’, was inspired by the world of flowers, crystals and minerals. With the help of Swarovski, he brought them to life. Alexander McQueen worked here with a so-called crystal mesh.
Just one year later, Swarovski was again working on a project with a total of 22 renowned fashion designers. This is a special project, because it was created to set a memento of Coco Chanel. The collection embodied different versions of the “little black”. The dresses of this tribute were auctioned off at a charity event. This was a special honor, as Swarovski worked with the designer in its early days, and she also helped the company achieve success in the jewelry world.
Karl Lagerfeld, Prada, Valentino: 2017-today
In 2017, a cooperation with the great fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld came about: the designer developed the “Jewelry Collection” together with the jewelry label.
The Karl Lagerfeld Jewelry Edition collection was also a major theme in the Crystal Worlds: Limited pieces from the fall/winter collection were sold in the pop-up store. Shoes, bags, and T-shirts with the designer’s signature or the image of a caricature of him. In addition, Swarovski and Lagerfeld were given the honorable task of jointly designing the debutant crown for the 2017 Opera Ball.
Other famous designers with whom Swarovski has worked were Alexander Wang, Hussein Chalayan, Anthony Vaccarello, Christopher Kane and Viktor&Rolf. Today, dresses from luxury fashion brands such as Prada, Dolce & Gabbana and Valentino still regularly wear Swarovski crystals.
Swarovski on the film set
Swarovski goes Hollywood: Swarovski did not only leave its mark on the catwalks. Costumes of actresses like Sarah Jessica Parker in “Sex and the City” or Marilyn Monroe in “Blondes Preferred” carry the crystals on them. A dress from 1962 with 2500 crystals was auctioned in 2016 for 4.5 million euros.
120 years of collaboration with Jimmy Choo
Also for accessories like our expensive, beloved companions the shoes can of course be embellished with Swarovski stones! Swarovski and Jimmy Choo have been working together for years. In this video you can see how two greats of the fashion world harmonize with each other:
The name Swarovski in the media
But the name Swarovski is not only mentioned in the media together with the latest jewelry collection. The reason for this is Victoria Swarovski, also a part of the family business. By participating in Lets Dance, she attracted attention and publicity. In the meantime she also works as a moderator. For her wedding, the young woman of the Swarovski clan chose a wedding dress that was set with 500,000 Swarovski stones. A true dream!
Charitable: Swarovski Designer Foundation
In the United States, Swarovki has now been supporting students for over 10 years through scholarships such as at London’s Central Saint Martin’s and New York’s Parsons. The background to this support is that Swarovski wants to familiarize students with the handling and use of crystals in the fashion industry. The aim is to encourage creativity and the joy of experimentation through practical exercises. The crystal application room provided by Swarovski offers this opportunity and creates a place that connects and brings together designers and artists.
Swarovski honors up-and-coming talent and outstanding results with fashion awards such as the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA). Newcomers can present their achievements in women’s fashion, men’s fashion and accessories. The result of this support is a designer collective of over 150 designers in cosmopolitan cities such as New York, London and Milan.
Thanks to its years of commitment and support in the design field, Swarovski has become an integral part of today’s haute couture world. Over 100 million crystals adorn the fashion looks of recent years.