This article contains a list of miscellaneous information. (December 2021)
|Industry||Fashion, crystal, and jewelry|
|Founded||1895(as A. Kosmann, D. Swarovski & Co.)|
|Headquarters||Wattens, Innsbruck-Land District, Austria|
|Products||Crystal, genuine gemstones, created stones, accessories, and lighting|
Number of employees
The company is split into three major industry areas: the Swarovski Crystal Business, which primarily produces crystal glass, jewelry, watches and accessories; Swarovski Optik, which produces optical instruments such as 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 Swarovski Crystal Business is one of the highest grossing business units within Swarovski, with a global reach of approximately 3,000 stores in roughly 170 countries, more than 29,000 employees, and a revenue of about 2.7 billion euros (in 2018).
Swarovski is now run by the fifth generation of family members. It has been announced, however, that for the first time in the company's key history, senior management positions will come to be fulfilled by non-family members during the course of 2022.
Daniel Swarovski was born in northern Bohemia (now the Czech Republic), 20 km (12 miles) from the current border with Poland. His father was a glass cutter and owned a small glass factory. It was there that the 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 Kosmann, and Franz Weis founded the Swarovski company, originally known as A. Kosmann, D. Swarovski & Co. and shortened to KS & 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 had patented. This factory was home to the first crystal-cutting machines that revolutionized the jewelry business by creating a method for the mass production of crystals. Swarovski's vision was to make "a diamond for everyone" by making crystals affordable.
In 1899, it first used the edelweiss flower in its logo and expanded to France, where it was known as Pierres Taillées du Tyrol ("Cut stones from Tyrol"). In 1919, Swarovski founded Tyrolit, bringing the grinding and polishing tools from the crystal business into a different market.
In 1935, Swarovski's son Wilhelm created a customized pair of binoculars, which led to the launch of Swarovski Optik 14 years later. Swarovski Optik manufactures optical instruments such as binoculars, spotting scopes, rifle scopes and telescopes.
In 1977, Swarovski entered the United States' jewelry market.
Remaining a family-run business, Swarovski appointed Robert Buchbauer, the great-great-grandson of company founder Daniel Swarovski, as its new CEO in April 2020 with Mathias Margreiter serving as the company's CFO. Buchbauer had previously served as chairman of the company's executive board and as head of its consumer goods division, positions he retained after being appointed as CEO. Reported at the time as a major company shake-up, the change would see the founder's great-great granddaughter, Nadja Swarovski, lose her roles managing the company's communications strategy along with its fine jewelry label Atelier Swarovski; she had previously become the first female member of the Swarovski executive board in 2012, a role she retained along with responsibility for the company's sustainability efforts and its charitable foundation. Alongside the executive changes, the company also closed 750 retail stores, laid off some 6,000 employees, and promoted its B2B creative director Giovanna Battaglia Engelbert to serve as the Global Creative Director of Swarovski Group, the first so-named person in the company's 125 year history.
Tasked with the full creative direction of Swarovksi and with the responsibility to "re-imagine [its] product portfolio across all divisions", Engelbert released her first retail collection for the company in February 2021 with a second collection released in September of the same year; both drew on archival references to designs that founder Daniel Swarovski had created for the company. Expanding the company's retail offering, Engelbert also hired Swarovski-family member Marina Raphael to design and develop its first handbag line, to be released under the company's Atelier Swarovski marque.
Further shake-ups to the company's management would follow in late 2021; less than 18 months into their roles, Robert Buchbauer and Mathias Margreiter were announced to be stepping down from their CEO and CFO positions. Shareholder disputes over restructuring plans for the company were cited as the cause of the change. In October 2021, Michele Molon was appointed as the company's interim CEO with Frederik Westring announced as its CFO. The change would mark the first time that Swarovski would be led by a non-family member, with Italian-born Molon long having worked at the company but unrelated to founder Daniel Swarovski.
Members of the Swarovski family were early, active and enthusiastic champions of National Socialism, and at least six of its members maintained membership in the illegal party prior to Austria's annexation to National Socialist Germany on 12 March 1938. Three weeks earlier, 500 marchers in the Tyrolean town of Wattens held a torchlight procession that ended with chants of "Sieg Heil" and "Heil Hitler." The majority of the participants, police determined, were Swarovski plant employees, among them Swarovski family heirs Alfred, Wilhelm and Friedrich.
In its report to the state police on 14 February 1947, the Innsbruck district administrator called company head Alfred Swarovski "an enthusiastic member of the NSDAP." Alfred Swarovski praised Hitler at business gatherings and took actions as a regional business leader to ensure that "Tyrolean industry could be integrated as smoothly as possible into the enormous gears of the economy of Greater Germany and into the National Socialist economic order." He sent "grateful loyalty greetings" to Adolf Hitler on his 49th birthday and arranged a donation of 100,000 shillings for Hitler to establish a holiday home in Tyrol.
The company exploited its political connections and stewardship of the regional business association to emerge stronger from the Nazi era. During the war it diversified its production and expanded its business lines, adding abrasives, optical devices, telescopes, binoculars and other product lines during the war and growing from 500 to almost 1,200 employees between the Anschluss and March 1944.
"From my party affiliation, I only took advantage of the fact that it was possible for me as a party member to initiate the negotiations necessary for maintaining the company and to bring it to a successful conclusion with the responsible economic agencies of the Reich." Alfred Swarovski told the Innsbruck People's Court after the war.
In 1994, historian Horst Schreiber wrote about Swarovski's past but was not granted access to company archives.
The contemporary Swarovski company commissioned historian Dieter Stiefel as "a step towards dealing with our history in a serious and very pro-active manner," board spokesman Markus Langes-Swarovski said in 2018, however the study was not published because, Langes-Swarovski said, "Swarovski is a company that generally tries to keep the owners' personal stories largely out of the public eye because it does nothing for the business."
Swarovski glass is produced by melting a mixture of quartz sand, soda, potash and other ingredients at high temperatures. Lead, usually used in the form of lead tetroxide, is not used anymore and all Swarovski crystal glass produced since 2012 has been lead-free. To create crystal glass that lets light refract in a rainbow spectrum, Swarovski coats some of its products with special metallic chemical coatings. For example, Aurora Borealis, or "AB", gives the surface a rainbow appearance. Other coatings are named by the company, including Crystal Transmission, Volcano, Aurum, Shimmer, 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.
Swarovski has developed a unique technology that preserves the brilliance and brightness of crystals without the use of lead dioxide. The hologram on the back of the package contains the inscription "advanced crystal superior brilliant lead-free".
In 2004, Swarovski released Xilion, a copyrighted cut designed to optimize the brilliance of Roses (components with flat backs) and Chatons (diamond cut).
The Swarovski Group includes Tyrolit (makers of abrasive and cutting tools); Swareflex (reflective and luminous road markings); Swarovski Gemstones (synthetic and natural gemstones); and Swarovski Optik (optical instruments such as binoculars and rifle scopes).
Since 2006, the Royal Canadian Mint has issued collectors' coins with Swarovski crystal components. The 2006 crystal snowflake coin was gold (face value $300), with the reverse having six lens-shaped iridescent crystals on a snowflake. Subsequent years' crystal snowflake coins have been $20 silver coins featuring different coloured crystals. In 2018, the Canadian mint issued 12 different birthstone coins, each with a different Swarovski crystal. The Canadian mint's 12-coin 2019 zodiac series will feature 20 Swarovski crystals on each coin.
Swarovski launched its first watches collection in 1999 and it has grown into a globally successful business. The watches offered by Swarovski are Swiss made.
Swarovski has created a line of liquid and solid perfumes.
Exhibitions and museum
The company runs a crystal-themed museum, the "Swarovski Kristallwelten (Crystal Worlds)" at its original Wattens site (near Innsbruck, Austria). The Crystal Worlds Center is fronted by a grass-covered head, the mouth of which is a fountain.
Swarovski work was exhibited at Asia's "Fashion Jewel5ry & Accessories Fair" based on the concept of a single continuous beam of fragmented light travelling through a crystal.
In 2012, Swarovski collaborated with the London Design Museum to present an exhibition mixing digital technology with crystals.
- 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.
- Atelier Swarovski
- Atelier Swarovski collaborates with major luxury designers to create jewelry collections as well as architecture and home pieces (as part of the Atelier Swarovski Home department).
- Viktor and Rolf, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Fredrikson Stallard, Zaha Hadid, John Pawson, Daniel Libeskind, Prince Dimitri, Karl Lagerfeld, Christopher Kane, Mary Katranzou, Iris Apfel, Stephen Webster, Anna della Russo and Jason Wu have each designed collections for Atelier Swarovski.
- Penelope Cruz was the latest global brand ambassador for Atelier Swarovski.
- Chamilia creates exclusive beads, charms, and jewelry, many with sparkling crystal details.
- A road safety products specialist.
- Crystal-based animal and other figurines, ornaments and fashion accessories.
- Swarovski Crystal Palace
- Avant-garde lighting and design (chandeliers etc.)
- Swarovski Gemstone Business
- Gemstone designs.
- Swarovski Kristallwelten
- Museum, Art and Entertainment.
- Swarovski Lighting
- Finished lighting products and solutions[buzzword] with crystal for architecture.
- Swarovski Optik
- Swarovski Professional
- Crystal elements produced by Swarovski
- Touchstone Crystal
- Swarovski's direct sales company for ready-made jewelry.
- A manufacturer of bonded grinding and cutoff wheels.
Figurines and collectibles
Swarovski's figurines are collectible; its first produced figurine was a stylized mouse. A smaller version of this mouse, now labelled the "replica mouse," is still sold to this day. Swarovski Elements crystals were included in some collectible silver coins issued by the Royal Canadian Mint in 2009.
Sponsorship and crystal product placement
Swarovski's Communications and Branding Business has successfully placed Swarovski crystal in a number of films, theatre productions and fashion shows over the last hundred years.
Swarovski crystal has been featured in the following films:
- James Cameron's 1997 blockbuster Titanic;
- Baz Luhrmann's 2001 film Moulin Rouge;
- the 2002 spy film James Bond: Die Another Day features a scene in which Pierce Brosnan and Halle Berry lie on a bed of 'diamonds' which are in fact Swarovski crystal;
- the 2004 film The Phantom of the Opera, in which the "standing model" of the chandelier was composed of Swarovski crystals;
- the 2009 documentary film This Is It showed Michael Jackson rehearsing for a concert tour, featuring costumes covered in Swarovski crystals;
- Natalie Portman's dress in the 2010 film Black Swan;
- the 2012 James Bond installment Skyfall, in which designer Stephen Webster used over 60,000 Swarovski crystals to adorn the Bond girl Severine;
- A Royal Night Out featured costume jewelrymade with Swarovski jewelry;
- The Greatest Showman starring Hugh Jackman;
- Beauty and the Beast starring Emma Watson;
- Bohemian Rhapsody (featured in the crown worn by Rami Malek's Freddie Mercury); and
All the jewelry from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes starring Marilyn Monroe were Swarovski crystal. Additionally, the tiara worn by Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's was adorned in Swarovski crystal.
Rihanna also wore an entire Swarovski crystal dress in her appearance at the American Grammys.
Michael Jackson's crystal glove, which sold for $192,000 at auction in 2010, was also made of Swarovski crystal.
Swarovski has worked with Victoria's Secret and their Fashion Show for 15 years. For the 2018 Fashion Show, Victoria's Secret model Elsa Hosk wore a Fantasy Bra featuring over one million dollars' worth of Swarovski crystal.
In 2017, Swarovski commissioned a $60,000 Art Deco-styled dress in the style of Marlene Dietrich's famous "nude dress", from Berlin-based fashion tech company ElektroCouture to honour her legacy 25 years after her death. It contains 2,000 crystals in addition to 150 LED lights. ElektroCouture owner Lisa Lang said that the dress was inspired by electrical diagrams and correspondence that took place between the actress and fashion designer Jean Louis in 1958. "She wanted a dress that glows, she wanted to be able to control it herself from the stage and she knew she could have died of an electric stroke had it ever been realized." The dress created by Lang's company was featured in French-German broadcaster Arte's documentary Das letzte Kleid der Marlene Dietrich ("The Last Dress of Marlene Dietrich").
Swarovski actively collaborates with high-profile fashion designers for numerous Fashion Weeks taking place around the world. For London Fashion Week in 2018, Swarovski collaborated with the House of Holland, Mary Katrantzou and Richard Quinn. For New York Fashion Week in 2018, Swarovski collaborated with Jason Wu, Alexander Wang, Brandon Maxwell, Gabriela Hearst and Rosie Assoulin.
A notable client of Swarovski was Liberace, who acquired a large number of their rhinestones and used them to cover many items he owned, including his piano and his car. Liberace's success and fame were a major driver for Swarovski's brand, growth and success, and the company recognized this by creating an exceptionally large rhinestone dubbed "the Heart of Liberace". This piece, weighing 115,000 carats (20 kg; 50 lb) was presented to Liberace in 1985. It is now on display as part of the Liberace exhibition at the Hollywood Car Museum in Las Vegas. The crystal has 134 facets, and measures 31 by 23 cm (12.2 by 9 inches). At the time, the crystal was valued at $50,000 (equivalent to $125,000 in 2021).
Since 2004, Swarovski has provided the 2.7-meter-diameter (9 ft), 250-kilogram (550 lb) star or snowflake that tops the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree in New York City. Smaller versions of this are sold as Annual Edition ornaments.
Swarovski owned the Austrian football club FC Swarovski Tirol from 1986 to 1992.
In 2018, celebrity chef Nadiya Hussain, TV personality Katie Piper, and CoppaFeel founder Kris Hallenga, were announced as Swarovski's latest ambassadors, and starred in the brand's ongoing #BrillianceforAll campaign.
Swarovski annually hosts the Designers of the Future Award in recognition of young and up-and-coming designers. The previous winners of the Swarovski Designers of the Future Award include influential designers and architects: Ross Lovegrove, Greg Lynn, Troika, Fredrikson Stallard, Erwin Redl, Eyal Burstein, Asif Khan, Guilherme Torres, Jeanne Gang and Mexico City-based global architecture and design practice Fernando Romero Enterprise (FR-EE). The 2018 winners were Frank Kolkman, an experimental Dutch designer focused on robotic technologies; Study O Portable, a research-based Dutch-Japanese practice making objects about the designed environment, and Yosuke Ushigome of TAKRAM, a creative Japanese technologist specializing in emerging technologies.
Swarovski store in Frankfurt
Swarovski store in Munich
The factory in Wattens
Swarovskistraße Wattens September 2007
Swarovski in Richmond Hill, Ontario
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