This weekend I found myself working on a necklace and bracelet set composed of clear crystal beads and white glass pearl beads for my sister. The crystal beads I was working with are simply crystal beads but there is a brand of crystal beads and other crystal items called “Swarovski crystals,” which are a little more expensive. While working on these pieces, I got to thinking about pieces I made awhile ago with Swarovski crystal beads and a lady who informed me I should not falsely advertise my items as being made with Swarovski crystal beads. I explained to her that I was advertising them as my supplier had sold them to me and then I asked how she knew they were not Swarovski crystal beads. She said I could not be asking the prices I was if they were real; my prices would be much higher if they were real Swarovski crystals. I don’t use crystal beads too much because sparkly isn’t usually my style, so I forgot about this conversation. Now that I’m thinking about it again, let’s find out just what are crystal beads and Swarovski crystal beads.

First let’s explore the crystal beads in general. They were originally designed to look like crystal quartz, which is a natural stone. While they sound like they might be something found in nature, crystal beads are a type of glass bead. What makes them different from regular glass is that small amounts of lead oxide are added to molten glass during the manufacturing process. This changes the properties of the glass and results in a product with a higher density than regular glass. The crystal glass is then cut in ways which cause it to refract light to create a sparkling effect.

Now for Swarovski crystals. In 1892, Daniel Swarovski created an automatic crystal cutting machine in Prague, Czech Republic. In 1895, he moved to Austria to protect his invention from spies trying to steal his idea. Since then, Swarovski crystals have been made in Austria and they are known for their high light refraction. Because they are made in Austria, Swarovski crystals are also often called “Austrian crystals;” however, I have also heard the term “Austrian crystals” used to describe crystals which are not Swarovski brand crystals.

Is there much of a difference between the plain crystal beads and the brand name Swarovski beads? I honestly couldn’t tell you because I don’t work with either of them enough to be able to tell a difference. From my understanding, the Swarovski crystals sparkle more than plain crystal beads, but for some people, that might not actually be as attractive. For others, the more sparkle, the better. From what I have found the difference is more in the appearance rather than the quality.

This is a photo of what I was working on this weekend:

IMG_4761 IMG_4760

You can see the crystal beads in between the glass pearls.

What are your thoughts on crystal in jewelry? Do you like the sparkle or do you prefer the natural look of gemstones? As always, thanks for stopping by!


Lead Oxide: An inorganic compound of lead and oxygen. It is frequently used in the making of glass. It can be fatal if swallowed or inhaled.

Refraction: When light hits an object and bounces off of it at a different angle from which it hit the object.


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