Daniel Swarovski was born in Bohemia into a family dealing with crystals. His father owned a small glass cutting factory. Thus his early years were spent watching the sparkle of crystal all around. As a child, Daniel was fascinated by the play of light on crystals. At the age of 21 he visited an exhibition in Germany on electrical gadgets. It was here, that a new idea took roots. After this he spent 9 years of hard work inventing a machine that would cut crystals to perfection.
In 1892, Daniel Swarovski registered a patent for his machine that cut crystal on an industrial scale with greater speed and precision than the manual process. This was the start of one of the most sought after crystal production centers in art history. Daniel Swarovski founded his company in the Alps, named for his family, in 1895. A new era in crystals had thus begun.
In the late 19th Century, crystal was regularly used to enhance formal evening wear. Crystal pieces were actually sewn into formal jackets and gowns. Swarovski took advantage of this fashion trend and in 1913; he created his own crystals exclusively for the fashion industry.
Always the entrepreneur, Swarovski used the shortage of cutting machines and materials during World War I to enhance his business. For the war effort, Swarovski produced grinding and dressing tools that were used to process crystal stones and he marketed them under the name of Tyrolit from 1917 to 1919. Not only jewelry until about 1956, Swarovski would often use the innovations of his original crystal company by developing subsidiary companies which provided products for automotive and roadway reflectors, telescopes, and lenses.
By mid 20th Century, Swarovski returned to the work of jewelry-making and crystal promotion using special treatments to produce colorful effects within crystal. Now began the golden age of Swarovski crystals. This new found popularity of Swarovski's pieces made the firm's crystal the desired crystal for famous chandeliers that graced such sites as the Metropolitan Opera House, major museums, and the castles owned by European monarchs. By the late 1960s, Swarovski's stones were utilized in home design, fashion, and jewelry markets all over the world.
The Olympic Crystal
By 1976, Swarovski expanded its business from that of a cutting, manufacturing, and jewelry production facility to a business committed to silver crystal as an end product for figurines and collectibles. In 1973 the company produced a paperweight and a key ring as memorabilia for the 12th Olympic Winter games in Innsbruck. A year later, designer Max Schreck 'accidentally' started a new product line: He built a little mouse out of chandelier parts. The mouse was followed by a series of crystal animals and decorative items, among them famous crystal lovebirds. Today, Swarovski's figurine collection Silver Crystal is a major branch of the company.
In the early 1990s, exhibitions featured Swarovski crystal and its crystal technology. In 1995, the company celebrated its 100th anniversary with the production of a prominent Swarovski century swan in silver crystal. To commemorate the occasion the firm opened its exhibition center featuring a history of crystal and the Swarovski Company. This was a spectacular theme park, Swarovski Crystal Worlds ('Kristallwelten') in Wattens, close to Innsbruck. It was designed by artist André Heller and takes you into a land of imagination and beauty. An exceptional park landscape bewitches with waterworks, labyrinth and spectacular lightening.
Swarovski is an Austrian success story par excellence. Once Daniel Swarovski founded a company with the aim to cut crystals automatically, the company was enormously successful and soon worked in numerous fields like the production of optical products, abrasives and grinding tools, the cutting of crystals and the manufacturing of decorative stones made from crystal. Those were mostly used for the jewelry and fashion industries, as chandelier parts, as accessories and as beads and ornaments for attire and jewelry. Swarovski's necklaces, pins and earrings are popular worldwide. Swarovski's crystal beads are also used to adorn dresses, shoes and handbags. Today Swarovski crystals are at the heart of the fashion world centre of haute-couture such as James Bond movies and Hollywood celebrities.
The company is also renowned for its optical products. Swarovski's binoculars and telescopes are ergonomic, elegant, well balanced and without frills.