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The History of Swarovski

February 01, 2023 3 min read

history of swarovski

In 1895, Daniel Swarovski founded the Swarovski company with one goal in mind: to create a diamond for everyone. Having worked as an apprentice in his father's glass-cutting factory in Bohemia (now the Czech Republic), Daniel Swarovski developed an electric cutting machine that could produce crystal glass, and the iconic Swarovski crystal was born.

From the 1930s through to the 1960s, the Swarovski crystal became synonymous with glamour and fashion, - even the iconic dress worn by Marilyn Monroe during her rendition of "Happy Birthday Mr President" to JFK in 1962 was adorned with the gleaming crystals.

Today in the 21st century, Swarovski is one of the most recognizable brands in the world, and Swarovski crystals can be spotted everywhere from the red carpet to ornate jewellery, and sometimes even on cars, theatre displays and home furniture. In this blog, we're going to take a closer look at the history of Swarovski, and explore some of the most iconic moments that have cemented Swarovski as the world's leading brand in glass crystals. Let's take a look.


What are Swarovski crystals?

Swarovski crystals are decorative glass crystals made from a mix of quartz sand, soda, potash and other ingredients. The Swarovski crystal is synonymous with its iconic glimmer and shine, which occurs due to the light refraction made possible during the manufacturing process. While previous Swarovski crystals were made with lead (typically lead tetroxide), the brand modified its manufacturing process in 2012, and all Swarovski crystals are now categorised as lead-free.


Swarovski Crystals History: a timeline of historic moments

1895 - 1920s

From the birth of the Swarovski brand and up to the roaring 1920s,Swarovski crystals were increasingly featured and sought-after in the fashion world, with crystals being used to decorate 1920s flapper dresses, as well as haute couture items in France and the rest of Europe. 1911 even saw Daniel Swarovski open his own glassworks factory to keep up with demand, as the Swarovski brand went global.


1930s - 1990s

In the post-war period, the Swarovski brand leant into Hollywood glamour, featuring in some of the most well-loved and iconic moments in Hollywood cinema.

In perhaps her most lauded role - as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany's - Audrey Hepburn wore a beautiful Swarovski-embellished tiara, replicas of which are still sold to this day.

And as we already mentioned, who could forget Marlyn Monroe's sparkling, light-refracting dress from 1962? Wearing a dress adorned with hundreds of Swarovski crystals, Marilyn Monroe performed her raspy rendition of "Happy Birthday Mr President" to then-president John F. Kennedy, a moment that cemented not just Monroe's status as an icon of American cinema, but also the iconic status of the Swarovski brand. In 2016, the same dress was auctioned for a whopping $4.8 million.

In the 1950s, Swarovski also worked with haute couture fashion designers such as Coco Chanel and Dior, and even developed the Aurora Borealis finish for the Swarovski crystal with the help of Christian Dior himself. The Aurora Borealis finish is a gorgeous iridescent coating which gives the impression of a multicoloured, aurora-like sparkle and is used in jewellery creation to this day.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Swarovski crystals continued to dominate the world of art, music and culture, most notably through pop legend Michael Jackson. The singer's famous single crystal glove was adorned with hundreds of Swarovski crystals, as were many of his touring costumes - many of which are now kept as artefacts in museums.


2000s - present

The new millennium ushered in a new era for Swarovski, and in 2015, the brand celebrated their 120th anniversary. That same year, Queen of Pop Madonna ordered 2.5 million Swarovski crystals, all of which were to be hand-applied to her costumes during her Rebel heart tour.

The 2000s also saw the release of theSwarovski pearl, a small pearl-like crystal that perfectly mimics the sheen and weight of the real thing.

With more than a century passed since their founding, Swarovski crystals can still be seen from the red carpet to the everyday jeweller's shop; adorning everything from custom-designed dresses to a pair of earrings worn by the Princess of Wales. Pop starDoja Cat was even recently seen sporting a head-to-to ensemble of stunning red Swarovski crystals!

And recently at the 2018 Oscar's - which also happened to be the 90th Oscar's ceremony - set designer Derek McLane used 45 million Swarovski crystals to create the most elaborate, sparkling awards stage in Hollywood history. Given the leading role that Swarovski has played in films past and present, we can't imagine anything more fitting.


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