Swarovski Crystal Beads

Written by Sarah Provost
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There's a reason why Swarovski is the first name in crystals. Swarovski beads are made in Austria of full-leaded crystal, containing at least 32 percent of a lead compound that makes it optically pure. The crystal is then shaped and faceted. It is these facets that give crystal the prism-like sparkle.

Creating Colored Crystals

Crystals are formed by a slow heat-reduction process. Colored crystals are not dyed or coated, but rather are created with the addition of a chemical that absorbs a certain wavelength of light. When that particular wavelength is absorbed, our eyes see its opposite. If the chemical causes red light to be absorbed, then green light will be reflected, and the bead will be seen as green. In order to create a perfectly white crystal, there must be no impurities whatsoever.

Daniel Swarovski, who was born in Bohemia in the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1862, grew up surrounded by crystals. He apprenticed in his father's crystal factory, but when he was 21, he began work on a machine that would save the intensive labor of creating facets by hand. It took him nine years to complete his machine, but he was able to patent it in 1892, and it changed the world of crystal.

Today, computers assist in the delicate and difficult task of creating faceted crystals. As many as a hundred different facets might be required, in different directions, and each must be perfect in itself and in relation to the other facets, so that the light will be reflected as desired. Just as Daniel Swarovski created the first machine for cutting crystal, the Swarovski company was the first, in 1995, to develop the new computer assisted manufacturing technique.

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