Daniel Swarovski (October 24, 1862 – January 23, 1956), formerly Daniel Swartz, a man who was able to instill a love of high society to the crystal stones that imitate diamonds. Moreover, in contrast to his predecessor – Georges Frédéric Strass, who was making rhinestones passing 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 have not deceive people.
Daniel Swarovski was born on October 24, 1862 in a small village Georgenthal, which is located in North Bohemia (formerly belonged to Austro-Hungarian Empire). We must say that that place was a 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 family business helped them to make money for a living, although it did not indulge them with luxury. Of course Daniel helped his father run a business, but the boy dreamed about becoming a musician. He wanted to become a violinist.
Alas, he could not master the violin and went to Paris to be educated. There was an important event that changed the life of a future master of crystal. Swarovski got to the “First Electrical Exhibition” and met there with a lot of modern technology and science. Most of his attention was attracted by the possibility to use electricity for grinding glass.
Years went by and almost 10 years after the “First Electrical Exhibition” (to be precise, in 1892), Swarovski has developed the world’s first electric grinding machine for glass. It was immediately patented by the young inventor. At this point, Daniel realized that he should try himself in the field of entrepreneurship. However Swarovski did not want to return to his native village. Perhaps he felt that there were too many artists who can compete with him. Be that as it may, Daniel went to the village of Wattens, located close to Tyrol (Austria). It was there where the first factory was founded by Daniel Swarovski. It happened in 1895.
Originally the company was called “DS & Co”, which means “Daniel Swarovski and The Company.” This is one version. There is another one, according to which the company was founded by Daniel and his partner from France, and the name of the partner went first. Perhaps it was so, but there is no much evidence of this fact.
Therefore, in 1895, the Swarovski’s company launched the production of crystal stones that imitate the appearance of precious stones. Of course the brainchild of Swarovski had much more democratic price comparing to diamonds, and the crystals are affordable to many people. Soon after the release, the demand for Swarovski crystals began to rise sharply. They have become fashion accessories. By the beginning of XX century the company was just swamped with orders and was renamed to “Swarovski”. What once was a fake and produced by Georges Frédéric Strass, in the hands of Daniel Swarovski became the new fashion trend. Daniel from the very beginning did not conceal that his brainchild were not diamonds.
The Formation of the Legend
The increased demand for the products led the company to expansion. Swarovski hired additional 200 employees. Its products were in demand all over Europe. The elite of Paris and St. Petersburg society quickly fell in love with crystal jewelry from Swarovski. And it was very affordable to the middle class people, as the price on the crystal jewelry was not as great as on the real diamonds.
In 1908, three sons of Daniel, Wilhelm, Friedrich and Alfred, joined the company making it a truly family enterprise. Together with his sons Daniel Swarovski was spending much time in trying to create a completely 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 its demand throughout Europe and Swarovski had not reached the U.S. market yet. Swarovski launched a subsidiary company called Tyrolit (makers of abrasive and cutting tools). By the way, the company still exists to this day.
In the early 20’s, the economic situation stabilized and the company was engaged in crystal production using new technology. Swarovski’s creations were different from anything else that was 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 company was noticed by the famous designer Coco Chanel, who was using Austrian crystals in her finery.
Swarovski work surpassed competitors largely due to a number of patents and the secret formula that has not been solved up until now and which is the key factor in the success of the company’s products. Swarovski crystals shine noticeably brighter and actually they are hard to be distinguished from diamonds. Many believe that the “shining effect” is achieved through presence of lead in crystals. But this is not the only option. Do not forget about the special technique of crystal cut which is known only to Swarovskis.
However, do not think that the company was focused only on luxury goods. In 1929, Daniel founded 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 at the war times. But it is exactly known that it didn’t stop working, as Swarovski opened a whole new market in the United States. It is completely unclear how the company was able to organize the sales in the U.S. 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 the 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 original founder, was 47 years of age. Wilhelm’s passion was “to be closer to the stars” and he was fond of astronomy, as he himself described it, awakened his ambition to build his own, improved binocular.
In 1956, Daniel Swarovski passed away. 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 a place at the company’s leadership, as Daniel Swarovski’s grandson Manfred took over the family company’s direction in the 1950s. Manfred Swarovski brought the company into a new development direction, while, working with designer Christian Dior, the company created its famed multicolored Aurora Borealis crystal stones. The collaboration with Dior marked the beginning of 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 of 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 in order to offer collectors of Swarovski crystal special benefits and services. Today the Society unites over 450,000 members in 35 countries.
What’s the secret to the unique Swarovski products? Other companies have been trying to solve it for many years but none of them succeeded. Perhaps they never will, considering the fact how the secrets are stored in the company. However, they already have revealed some secrets of Swarovski. In particular, it’s become known why the crystal stones are so shiny. The reason for this is the lead oxide content (about 32%). Of course, it is also present in the usual rhinestones, however, in smaller amounts. To be precise, there is no more than 24% of lead oxide content in usual rhinestones. And finally, no one has unraveled the secret of a unique crystal polishing method.
Production way of unique Swarovski crystals is a big secret. And all the employees are completely aware of it. It is not surprising that after making a crystal model, creators destroy all records on it. It is done in order not to repeat some unique models, designed for collectable series. All tools that are used for cutting are made by the Swarovski company itself.
In 1995, the company opened a museum “Swarovski Crystal Worlds”. It was created for the 100th anniversary of the Swarovski factory. It is located just a short drive from Innsbruck. And the place where it is located is underground.
Today the company produces about 80% of all stones that are used in high-quality jewelry. Swarovski headquarters are still located in the small Austrian village of Wattens. The number of employees in 2009 was 24,841. Strange as it seems, but the Swarovski remains a privately owned company that is operated by a family of Daniel. And they never wanted to become a public company.
Swarovski – a company that has now just a great image and reputation. And it is simply prestigious to own a product from Swarovski. However, the company does not shun publicity. Once the brand was actively advertised in “The Phantom of the Opera” movie. Today Swarovski has its own network of stores worldwide. What will happen to the company in future? Hard to say. But considering its current weight on the world stage we can safely say that Swarovski has a brilliant future and the world will see many more unique products from this company.
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading Daniel Swarovski biography, his success story and amazing history of Swarovski company and we hope it’s inspired you to new discoveries.