Daniel Swarovski was born in Georgenthal bei Gablonz, Bohemia on October 24, 1862, the eldest of four children in a family of traditional glass-cutters. Apprenticed as a young man to a metalworker, he later learnt the art of crystal-cutting in the family business, while also showing great curiosity and eagerness to experiment with modern technologies.
PATENTING THE FUTURE
When Daniel and Franz Weis — future co-founders of Swarovski — patented their ‘machine for perfectly cutting jewelry stones’ in Prague this year, the jewelry and fashion industries were revolutionized. The state-of-the-art machine cut gemstones with unprecedented precision, ushering in a new era in crystal manufacturing.
AT HOME IN WATTENS
When Swarovski put down roots in Wattens, it was a tiny village with little more than 800 inhabitants. But it offered major advantages: enough distance from potential imitators, convenient transport links to the fashion center of Paris and, above all, an opportunity to convert an existing loden factory into a plant needed for crystal production.
ENRICHING EMPLOYEES’ LIVES
From day one, Swarovski knew there was more to a company’s success than merely manufacturing products — namely a responsibility for its employees’ wellbeing. This nurturing approach soon came to be known as the ‘Swarovski Spirit’ and the company played an active role in enriching the lives of its employees and community, fostering a lively culture of sports, social and leisure activities in the town.
TOOLS BORN OF NECESSITY
During World War I, there was an acute shortage of grinding tools necessary for crystal production. Swarovski undertook two years of research and experimentation to develop a way of manufacturing its own abrasives, registering them under the Tyrolit brand in 1919.
In 1931, Daniel developed a new type of ribbon covered with crystals and filed for a patent. The fashion world loved this new trimming – comprising crystals set in plastic, fixed to flexible fabric – which could be easily attached to dresses, shoes and bags.
SEE THE unseen
In 1935, Daniel’s son Wilhelm developed Swarovski’s first binoculars called Habicht, meaning ‘hawk’, which are popular to this day. This led to the foundation of Swarovski Optik, a leading high-precision optical instruments brand, established in 1949. Today, its product range also encompasses rifle scopes, telescopes and optronic devices.
TIME FOR REFLECTION
From the early 1920s, once his sons had become more involved in the company, Daniel could focus on his main passion – experimentation. This sparked his idea for reflective glass elements, and in 1950, Swarovski launched its Swareflex road safety brand, whose products are used in a variety of forms worldwide.
New heights, new lights
Daniel’s creative legacy hit new heights the year he died. Looking for ways to make his crystals sparkle brighter still, Swarovski developed the idea of vaporizing crystals with a metal coating inside a vacuum. The famous Aurora Borealis finish, which shimmers in every color of the rainbow, was introduced to the market in 1956 by Christian Dior. It has since proved a runaway success across the worlds of fashion and jewelry.
BRILLIANT AS DIAMONDS
Building on 50 years’ experience as master cutters of crystal, Swarovski started cutting rock crystal, garnet, agate, and later cubic zirconia, paving the way for the foundation of its Gemstones Business. In 2017, the company unveiled Swarovski Created Diamonds – lab-grown diamonds which possess the same chemical composition, hardness, brilliance and fire as mined diamonds.
FINISHED PRODUCTS AND FIGURINES
Crystal souvenirs were created for the XII Winter Olympic Games in Innsbruck in 1976, which were the beginnings of the commercialization of finished products. Then a Swarovski employee glued together several chandelier pieces to form a tiny mouse, laying the foundation for the iconic figurines that fascinate a large community of fans worldwide today.
A REGAL AFFAIR
After an extensive renovation, Versailles, the French royal palace enlarged on a grand scale by Louis XIV, reopened under the supervision of French president Valéry Giscard d’Estaing in 1980. Swarovski experts played a key role in the project, helping to restore the building’s fabulous baroque chandeliers to their former glory.
the first swarovski boutique
The first Swarovski shop - called Silver Crystal Suite - opens in London's prestigious Old Bond Street, selling crystal figurines which were in such demand that a large turtle figurine is stolen in a burglary on the first day the store is open.
REBORN AS A SWAN
As the 1980s drew to a close, Swarovski considered modernizing its logo. It replaced the edelweiss with its iconic swan, symbolizing both the purity and elegance of crystal and the company’s strength and flexibility. Originally resembling a swan depicted by Gustav Klimt in black with accents of color in its plumage, it later morphed into the logo everyone is familiar with now — a swan in uniform silver or white.
GIANT STEPS FORWARD
To mark its 100th anniversary, Swarovski opened Kristallwelten (Swarovski Crystal Worlds), a multimedia attraction and cultural center designed by artist André Heller. Taking the form of a giant, the site houses 17 Chambers of Wonder today, each presenting unique interpretations of crystal by world-famous artists. To date, more than 15 million people have experienced Kristallwelten’s charms.
NURTURING THE NEXT GENERATION
The Swarovski Collective was born in 1999, the result of a collaboration between Nadja Swarovski, fashion editor and muse Isabella Blow, and designer Alexander McQueen. Swarovski has since supported over 150 established and emerging designers in a quest to push boundaries in the creative use of crystal across the fashion world.
The availability of water was a deciding factor when Daniel Swarovski chose to settle in Wattens in 1895. Honoring that legacy, in 2000, the company launched the first Swarovski Waterschool in Austria – a social and educational initiative which gives future generations the knowledge and tools to protect nature’s most valuable resource. Further Waterschool locations opened in India (2006), China (2008), Uganda (2009), Brazil (2014) and Thailand and the USA (2016).
TRADITION WITH A TWIST
In 2002, Nadja Swarovski launched the Swarovski Crystal Palace design initiative, which asked designers to reinvent and reimagine the traditional chandelier. Over the years, creatives partners have been invited to abandon all preconceptions about conventional form while keeping alive the magical, emotional qualities of crystal lighting.
CUTTING EDGE CREATIVITY
The Atelier Swarovski line, launched by Nadja Swarovski in 2007, offers creative talents and designers the opportunity to experiment with Swarovski crystals across jewelry and home décor collections. Its debut lines were designed by Christopher Kane and Rodarte, with stellar names including Karl Lagerfeld, Zaha Hadid and Academy Award-winning costume designer Sandy Powell later joining their ranks.
The first Swarovski Sustainability Report – whose target audience was stakeholders, from suppliers to clients – was published in 2010 to help communicate Swarovski’s impacts across issues such as climate change, human rights, governance and social wellbeing. The report also outlined Swarovski’s plans to accelerate its sustainability performance.
The Swarovski Foundation, a non-profit organization which continues the philanthropic approach initiated by Daniel, was established this year. It encourages creativity by supporting art and cultural institutions and facilitating access to art and culture and supports women and young people through education and health initiatives and organizations campaigning to protect the environment. It also provides emergency assistance in areas of conflict and natural disasters.
21ST CENTURY ATELIER
Cutting-edge technology, collaboration and openness to new trends – these attributes define Swarovski’s spirit, and are united in Manufaktur, a LEED Gold Standard space for inspiration and co-creation designed by Snøhetta, which takes 21st century craftsmanship to the next level.
celebrating in style
This year the world’s largest crystal manufacturer celebrates its 125th anniversary with a series of global projects showcasing the company’s contributions and creative collaborations across the worlds of fashion, jewelry, architecture and design, entertainment and positive impact.
Swarovski partnered with two-time Oscar-nominated filmmaker Eric Valli to capture the creative process behind a Swarovski crystal collaboration. Legendary designer Jean Paul Gaultier's Kaputt jewelry collection for Atelier Swarovski is the focus of the film, showcasing the detailed steps required to go from first concept to final product. Dynamic video and rich photography from the Wattens factories and archives celebrates the people, passion and pride behind our crystal. The spirit of founder Daniel Swarovski shines through in this inspiring and intimate portrait highlighting the company's commitment to craftsmanship, creativity and innovation.