In this article, we will share Daniel Swarovski’s biography and history of the Swarovski Company, a great Austrian company famous for its crystal stones. Enjoy reading the success story about inventions and outstanding achievements.
Daniel Swarovski (October 24, 1862 – January 23, 1956), formerly Daniel Swartz, was a man who instilled a love of high society in the crystal stones that imitate diamonds. Moreover, in contrast to his predecessor, Georges Frédéric Strass, who made rhinestones and passed them off as diamonds, Swarovski never hid the fact that his products were made of crystal glass and were only an imitation of diamonds. If Georges Frédéric Strass only had known about Daniel Swarovski’s future success, then perhaps he would not have deceived people.
It All Started in the Far North Bohemia
Daniel Swarovski was born on October 24, 1862, in the small village of Georgenthal, which is located in North Bohemia (formerly belonged to the Austro-Hungarian Empire). We must say that that place was very suitable for the birth of a future master of crystal because North Bohemia is famous for its crystal glass masters. The members of Daniel’s family were also engaged in glass processing. His father owned a small workshop. Swarovski’s family business helped them make a living, although it did not indulge them with luxury. Of course, Daniel helped his father run a business, but the boy dreamed of becoming a musician. He wanted to become a violinist.
He could not master the violin and went to Paris to be educated. A significant event changed the life of a future master of crystal. Swarovski went to the “First Electrical Exhibition” and met there with a lot of modern technology and science. Most of his attention was attracted to the possibility of using electricity for grinding glass.
Years went by, and almost ten years after the “First Electrical Exhibition” (to be precise, in 1892), Swarovski developed the world’s first electric grinding machine for glass. The young inventor immediately patented it. At this point, Daniel realized that he should try entrepreneurship himself. However, Swarovski did not want to return to his native village. Perhaps he felt that too many artists could compete with him. Be that as it may, Daniel went to the village of Wattens, located close to Tyrol (Austria). It was there where Daniel Swarovski founded the first factory.
In 1895, Daniel Swarovski, financier Armand Kosman, and Franz Weis established the Swarovski company, formerly known as A. Kosmann, D. Swarovski & Co. and shortened to KS & Co.
Therefore, in 1895, Swarovski’s company launched the production of crystal stones that imitate the appearance of precious stones. Of course, the brainchild of Swarovski had a much more democratic price than diamonds, and the crystals are affordable to many people. Soon after the release, the demand for Swarovski crystals rose sharply. They have become fashion accessories. By the beginning of the 20th century, the company was just swamped with orders and was renamed “Swarovski.” What once was a fake and produced by Georges Frédéric Strass, in the hands of Daniel Swarovski, became the new fashion trend. From the beginning, Swarovski did not conceal that his brainchild was not diamonds.
The Formation of the Legend
The increased demand for the products led the company to expand. Swarovski hired an additional 200 employees. The company’s products were in demand all over Europe. The elite of Paris and St. Petersburg society quickly fell in love with crystal jewelry from Swarovski. In addition, the Swarowski stones were affordable to the middle class, as the price of the crystal jewelry was not as high as that of the natural diamonds.
In 1908, three sons of Daniel, Wilhelm, Friedrich, and Alfred, joined the company, making it a truly family enterprise. With his sons, Daniel Swarovski spent much time trying to create an entirely new technique of crystal manufacturing, and finally, the desired result was achieved.
Then the First World War came along. The jewelry products began to lose demand throughout Europe, and Swarovski had not reached the U.S. market. Swarovski launched a subsidiary company called Tyrolit (producers of abrasive and cutting tools). By the way, the company still exists today.
In the early 20s, the economic situation stabilized, and the company was engaged in crystal production using new technology. Swarovski’s creations differed from anything else available in the world. Competitors’ efforts came to nothing, while the Swarovski company gained popularity. The fashion world was particularly interested in Swarovski crystals when the famous designer Coco Chanel, who used Austrian crystals in her finery, noticed the company.
Swarovski’s work surpassed competitors mainly due to several patents and the secret formula that has not been solved until now, which is the critical factor in the success of the company’s products. Swarovski crystals shine noticeably brighter, and actually, they are hard to distinguish from diamonds. Many believe that the “shining effect” is achieved through the presence of lead in crystals. However, this is not the only option. Do not forget about the unique crystal cut technique known only to Swarovskis.
However, the company is not focused only on luxury goods. In 1929, Daniel founded the Swareflex division. The division unit was responsible for producing special glass reflectors for automobiles. Then World War II came along.
There is no accurate information about what happened to the company during the war. But it is precisely known that it didn’t stop working, as Swarovski opened a whole new market in the United States. It is entirely unclear how Daniel Swarovski established sales in the United States. After all, it was an Austrian company, and Austria was leading the war on Hitler’s side.
The war was over, and life gradually stabilized. The demand for luxury goods began to recover. By that time, Swarovski also produced truly individual crystal elements.
In 1949, Swarovski Optik KG was founded by Wilhelm in Absam, Tyrol. Wilhelm Swarovski, son of the founder, was 47 years of age. Wilhelm’s passion was “to be closer to the stars,” he was fond of astronomy, which awakened his ambition to build his improved binoculars.
On January 23, 1956, Daniel Swarovski passed away. He was 93 years old. However, the family business was put so well that the loss of its leader did not prevent further development of the company.
A new generation of Swarovskis had taken place under the company’s leadership, as Daniel Swarovski’s grandson Manfred took over the family company’s direction in the 1950s. While working with designer Christian Dior, Manfred Swarovski brought the company into a new development direction; the company created its famed multicolored Aurora Borealis crystal stones. The collaboration with Dior began a new era of close cooperation between the crystal company and the world’s fashion industry.
As time went on, the range of the company continued to grow. Crystals for chandeliers became a new trend for Swarovski. Finally, the company began producing collectible souvenirs (glass sculptures and miniatures). The first glass sculpture was a crystal mouse. In 1987, the Swarovski Collectors Society (SCS) was founded to offer collectors of Swarovski crystal exclusive benefits and services. Today, the SCS unites over 500,000 members in 35 countries.
What’s the secret to the unique Swarovski products? Other companies have tried to solve it for many years, but none succeeded. Perhaps they never will, considering how the secrets are stored in the company. However, they have already revealed some of Swarovski’s secrets. In particular, it’s become known why the crystal stones are so shiny. This is due to the lead oxide content (about 32%). Of course, it is also present in the usual rhinestones but in smaller amounts. To be precise, there is no more than 24% lead oxide content in the typical rhinestones. Finally, no one has unraveled the secret of a unique crystal polishing method.
The production process for unique Swarovski crystals is a big secret, and all the employees are completely aware of it. Not surprisingly, creators destroy all records on it after making a crystal model. It is done not to repeat some unique models designed for the collectible series. The Swarovski company itself makes all tools used for cutting.
In 1995, the company opened a museum, “Swarovski Crystal Worlds.” It was built in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Swarovski factory. It is located underground, not far from Innsbruck.
In the picture, you can see the largest and the most petite ever-made Swarovski crystal stones. The largest one reaches 15.74 inches (40 cm) in diameter and weighs about 62 pounds (28 kg)! By the way, it is recorded in the Guinness World Records. The smallest crystal reaches only 0.03 inches (0.8 mm) in diameter and can be seen only through a microscope. This fantastic museum is visited annually by 600,000 tourists.
The company operates in three major industries: the Swarovski Crystal Business, which primarily creates crystal glass, jewelry, watches, and accessories; Swarovski Optik, which produces optical instruments like telescopes, telescopic sights for rifles, and binoculars; and Tyrolit, a manufacturer of grinding, sawing, drilling, and dressing tools, as well as a supplier of tools and machines.
Today, the company produces about 80% of all stones in high-quality jewelry. Swarovski headquarters are still located in the small Austrian village of Wattens. The Swarovski Crystal Business is one of the most profitable business units in Swarovski, with a global presence spanning approximately 3,000 stores across nearly 170 countries. The company employs over 29,000 people and earned a revenue of about 2.7 billion euros in 2018. Strange as it seems, the Swarovski remains a privately owned company operated by the family of Daniel Swarovski, and they never wanted to become a public company.
Swarovski has a great image and reputation, and owning a product from Swarovski is prestigious. However, the company does not shun publicity. Once, the brand was advertised in the movie The Phantom of the Opera (2004). The company designed a chandelier that was entirely decorated with Swarovski crystal stones. Today, Swarovski has a network of stores worldwide. How will the company develop its business in the future? We don’t know for sure. However, considering its current weight on the world stage, we can safely say that Swarovski has a bright future. The world will see many more unique products from this company.
The Swarovski company, run by fifth-generation family members, announced they would appoint non-family members to senior management positions for the first time in 2022.
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading Daniel Swarovski’s biography, success story, and the fantastic history of the Swarovski company.
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