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Swarovski is one of the most famous jewelry brands in the world and has been for over a century. Their swan logo is known throughout the world as are their jewelry, crystals, miniatures, and chandeliers.
The question is: how much of that is due to their quality, and how much is just branding?
Let’s take a look.
What is Swarovski jewelry?
Swarovski is an old Austrian jewelry brand that was launched by Daniel Swarovski in 1895. The brand is focused on three main areas:
- Swarovski Crystals which primarily produces lead glass, jewelry, and accessories.
- Swarovski Optik which works on optical instruments such as telescopic sights, binoculars, telescopes, etc.
- Tyrolit which produces grinding, drilling, sawing, and other such tools and machines.
Swarovski Crystals is a major part of the overall Swarovski business with ~3,000 stores in over 170 countries around the world, 29,000 employees, and a revenue of around 2.7 million euros for 2018.
Today, the company is run by the fifth generation of Daniel Swarovski’s descendants and they continue to focus on their decorative and classy vintage style.
Swarovski jewelry quality
Swarovski Crystals offers jewelry and ornament crystals of all prices and quality ranges. That’s one of the many reasons why the brand is so popular – it has something for almost everyone.
More importantly, however, every Swarovski piece tends to have a great quality/price ratio both in terms of their beauty and sparkle, as well as their durability. Because Swarovski manufactures their crystals from various materials such as quartz, sand, minerals, and lead, they are able to maintain an ever-present sparkle and durability that a lot of natural crystals lack.
The inclusion of lead, in particular, tends to surprise many people – the average Swarovski crystal actually includes ~32% lead. The lead’s purpose is not only to give the crystals some much-needed durability but also to maximize the refraction of the crystals. However, today they have less than .009 percent of lead in their crystals, which is why they can be considered lead-free.
The colors in Swarovski crystals are typically created through chemical coatings which are also impressively durable and can survive a lifetime with the proper care.
Does Swarovski jewelry tarnish?
Like any natural crystal, Swarovski crystals are also subject to wear and tear – they need to be kept from any physical damage, they shouldn’t be exposed to too much direct sunlight for prolonged periods of time, and they should be carefully and frequently cleaned.
This isn’t unusual, however, as any other crystal would need proper maintenance as well. What’s somewhat different in Swarovski crystals is their chemical coating which can tarnish more easily than some natural crystals if exposed to too much sweat or if it’s frequently sprayed with perfumes or washed with strong detergents. The same goes for a lot of other cosmetics and even suntan lotions. Keeping Swarovski crystals away from chlorine is also advisable but we trust you wouldn’t go swimming with your jewelry on anyway.
In short, keep your Swarovski jewelry away from all outside chemicals and clean them frequently but carefully with warm and mild soapy water.
Can you take a shower with Swarovski jewelry on?
In short – it’s not a good idea. Given everything we talked about above, exposing your Swarovski jewelry to your shower soaps, shampoos, and conditioners is simply ill-advised, as is washing it with chlorite-rich water.
Swarovski zirconia vs. Swarovski crystals
If you’ve decided to go with Swarovski you might be unsure whether to go for their classic crystals and their zirconia stones. Both make for a good choice but are nevertheless quite different. Here’s a quick breakdown of how the crystals and the zirconia compare with each other:
1. Zirconia is harder than crystals.
Swarovski zirconia sits at 8/10 hardness on the Mohs scale (diamonds being a 10/10) while Swarovski crystals range between 6 and 7 out of 10. This means that the crystals are more prone to scratches and might become a bit cloudy over time without the proper care.
2. Swarovski Zirconia is one of the finest diamond imitations on the market.
Swarovski has recently started applying ideal diamond-cut standards to their zirconia gemstones and as a result of that, a Swarovski Pure Brilliance Cut zirconia will offer the same brilliance as a Tolkowski ideal cut diamond – one of the world’s most perfect diamond cuts.
Swarovski crystals, on the other hand, come in a lot of different cuts. While they can achieve some quite impressive brilliance standards they are not on the level of Swarovski zirconia – the coating of Swarovski crystals simply make it easy for a trained eye to tell the difference.
3. Swarovski zirconia has a higher refraction index than Swarovski crystals.
In other words – zirconia offers more sparkle than crystals.
4. The price is also a key difference between these two products
While zirconia is significantly cheaper than diamonds from other brands, making it a great alternative to them, it’s also more expensive than the standard Swarovski crystals.
In short, Swarovski zirconia is better than Swarovski crystals in almost every way other than in “budget-friendliness”. Still, that doesn’t make it necessarily better as it makes the two types of jewelry suitable for different purposes. Swarovski Zirconia is the ideal substitute for diamonds as it’s just as brilliant at a fraction of the price. Swarovski crystals, on the other hand, are an even more affordable but still very beautiful option for costume or everyday jewelry.
Swarovski vs. Pandora
For a comparison between Swarovski and another similar brand, Pandora is likely the one you’re looking at. Pandora is a much more recent brand as it was founded in 1982 in Denmark. Pandora also has more stores than Swarovski worldwide – approximately 7,700 stores across ~100 countries.
In terms of what they offer, Pandora typically offers a larger variety of jewelry styles and brands in their stores while Swarovski focuses more on their own signature jewelry. Swarovski’s prices are also higher on average, however, that’s the price of Swarovski’s brand and quality.
Overall, if you’re looking for variety when you’re shopping, Pandora should likely be your first choice. If you know you want the specific Swarovski style, however, the Swarovski stores will offer you just that.
How to tell real Swarovski jewelry?
With the popularity of the Swarovski brand, it’s natural that there are quite a lot of imitations in both online and on-location jewelry stores. Even big store chains won’t hesitate to offer fakes to their customers sometimes so it’s important that you always shop not only from big and famous but also from reputable vendors.
So, aside from shopping directly from Swarovski stores or from another trustworthy vendor, how can you tell a real Swarovski piece of jewelry from a fake?
The easiest way is to look at the classic Swarovski laser-etched logo that’s present in a lot of their crystals. It’s a trapezoid-shaped logo that’s engraved inside some Swarovski crystals and stones such as Swarovski zirconia, all Swarovski Strass crystals, and others.
However, some Swarovski crystals such as the Bordeaux and Emerald Swarovski crystals don’t have this engraving because of their surface coating. For those crystals, you can check for the official Swarovski seal on the jewelry’s tag or sticker. It’s a 16-digit identification code that can be verified on the Swarovski site.
Is Swarovski jewelry worth anything?
If you’ve researched Swarovski a bit in online forums and message boards, you may have read that Swarovski is an overpriced brand that is not worth their prizes. As far as we’re concerned that’s incorrect. A lot of the complaints some customers have boiled down to them purchasing Swarovski imitations and fakes. A real Swarovski crystal offers a great deal of quality for a well-deserved price.
Why is Swarovski so popular?
Swarovski exists in a very well-chosen spot in the jewelry market. They offer excellent quality man-made crystals and gemstones that are very good at imitating natural diamonds and gemstones while coming at a fraction of the price. And instead of selling their crystals as low-price imitations, Swarovski has turned them into a brand in and of itself and has established itself as a global leader in the “high-quality yet affordable” jewelry range.