Swarovski (English pronunciation: /swɒrˈɒfski/ sworr-off-skee) is the brand name for a range of precisely-cut crystal (a particular type of glass) and related luxury products produced by Swarovski AG of Wattens, Austria. The company is split into two major industry areas, the Swarovski Kristall business unit that primarily works with luxury items and design crystals and the Tyrolit Schleifmittle business unit that is a worldwide leader in the tooling and machinery area.
Daniel Swarovski (October 24, 1862 – January 23, 1956), formerly Daniel Swartz, was born in northern Bohemia (now the Czech Republic). His father was a glass cutter who owned a small glass factory. It was there that a young Swarovski served an apprenticeship, becoming skilled in the art of glass-cutting. In 1892 he patented an electric cutting machine that facilitated the production of crystal glass.
In 1895, Swarovski financier Armand Kosman and Franz Weis founded the Swarovski company, originally known as A. Kosmann, Daniel Swartz & Co., which was later shortened to K.S. & Co. The company established a crystal cutting factory in Wattens, Tyrol (Austria), to take advantage of local hydroelectricity for the energy-intensive grinding processes Daniel Swarovski patented.
The Swarovski Crystal range includes crystal glass sculptures and miniatures, jewelry and couture, home decor, and chandeliers.
All sculptures are marked with a logo. The original Swarovski logo was an edelweiss flower, which was replaced by a S.A.L. logo, which was finally replaced with the current swan logo in 1988.
To create crystal glass that lets light refract in a rainbow spectrum, Swarovski coats some of its products with special metallic chemical coatings. Aurora Borealis, or "AB", is one of the most popular coatings, and gives the surface a rainbow appearance. Other coatings are named by the company, Crystal Transmission, Volcano, Aurum, and Dorado. Coatings may be applied to only part of an object; others are coated twice, and thus are designated AB 2X, Dorado 2X etc.
In 2004 Swarovski released Xilion, a copyrighted cut designed to optimise the brilliance of Roses (components with flat backs) and Chatons (diamond cut).
The Swarovski Group also includes Tyrolit (makers of abrasive and cutting tools); Swareflex (reflective and luminous road markings); Signity (synthetic and natural gemstones); and Swarovski Optik (optical instruments such as binoculars and rifle scopes).
The company runs a crystal-themed indoor theme park, Swarovski Kristallwelten (Crystal Worlds) at its original Wattens site (near Innsbruck, Tyrol, Austria). The Crystal Worlds centre is fronted by a glass-covered head, the mouth of which is a fountain. The glass-covered Crystal Worlds houses exhibitions related to, or inspired by, the crystals – but do not include explanations of how the famous designs are made, produced or finished.
In 2007 Swarovski formed a partnership with electronics giant Philips to produce the "Active-Crystals" consumer electronics range. This includes six USB Memory keys and four in-ear headphones, and in 2008 they included Bluetooth wireless earpieces for the brand, all with some form of Swarovski crystal on them as decoration.
Figurines and collectibles
Swarovski's figurines are collectible, with a stylized mouse being the very first figurine created. A smaller version of this mouse, now labeled the "replica mouse", is still available. The company produces many types of figurines from ladybugs to limited edition Disney collectibles.
Crystallized – Swarovski Elements crystals were included in some collectible silver coins issued by the Royal Canadian Mint in 2009.