Swarovski: A Sparkling History

With an original vision to create ‘a diamond for everyone’, the Swarovski company was founded in Austria in 1895. Today the company is world renowned for its high-quality crystal product collections of jewellery, accessories and ornaments.

Here, we take a look at where it all began. On October 24th 1862, in Bohemia (now the Czech Republic), Daniel Swarovski was born, the son of Franz Anton and Helene. Franz Anton was a glass-cutter who owned a small business, and it was in his father’s factory that a young Daniel became expert in the art of glass cutting.

Educated in Paris and Vienna, Daniel’s other interest, in electricity, began on a trip to the International Electricity Exhibition in Vienna in 1883. Around this time, Daniel formed a partnership with Franz Weis and Armand Kosman, originally called A. Kosman, Daniel Swarovski & Co. In 1887, Daniel married Marie, Franz’s sister, and they went on to have three sons, Wilhelm, Fritz and Alfred over the following four years.

It was this combination of his interest in electricity and his skill as a glass cutter that led to Daniel to patent an electric cutting machine in 1892, capable of cutting crystal far more precisely than by hand. Just three years later A. Kosman, Daniel Swarovski & Co., now known as KS & Co. established a crystal cutting factory in the Tyrol. Here, in the small town of Wattens, the partnership benefited from local hydro-electric power supplies, good transport links to Paris and distance from competitors and imitators.

The original production site was in the Rhomberg Loden Factory, and today this is now known as Plant 2. By 1899, the company had expanded into France and had adopted the edelweiss flower as its logo, one of the most beloved flowers in Austria, symbolising the Austrian heritage of the company and reflecting the purity of the crystal.

In Paris, the company’s products were known as ‘Pierres Taillé de Tyrol’, literally translated as stones cut from the Tyrol.

Shortly after The First World War, Daniel manufactured and marketed his grinding and polishing tools for the industrial market, under the brand name Tyrolit. The brand manufactured grinding discs, in short supply following the end of the war. Today, Tyrolit is one of the world’s leading suppliers of innovative precision engineering solutions.

The post war 1920s, known as the ‘Golden Twenties’ saw the Swarovski brand come into its own. Leading the way in innovative fashion trends, its crystal was in high demand in the world of fashion and performance and distribution in the U.S was headed by Ernest Lowenstein, a family friend.

By the time of the Great Depression, Swarovski debuted on the silver screen in the 1932 production Blonde Venus starring Marlene Dietrich and Cary Grant, both icons of the silver screen. In the film, Dietrich is seen wearing statement jewellery and costumes embellished with Swarovski crystals.

In the post war 1950s, crystal was hugely popular in haute-couture fashion and in the film industry. Believed to be an inspiration to Coco Chanel, Swarovski crystal appeared in the Hollywood production Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, with Marilyn Monroe.

Marilyn famously went on to sing birthday wishes to the President, wearing a gown covered with 2,500 hand sewn Swarovski crystals. 

This dress went on to $4.8m (approx. £3.4m) in the sale room in 2016.

Daniel Swarovski died on January 23rd 1956, aged 93, succeeded in his role by his three sons. Following the deaths of all three men in a period of just 2 years, the company was taken over by Daniel Swarovski II and Manfred Swarovski. Since 1895, founder Daniel Swarovski’s mastery of crystal cutting has defined the company, with his enduring passion for innovation and design making it the world’s premier jewellery and accessory brand.

Today, the company is still family owned with the Swarovski family carrying on the tradition of delivering extraordinary everyday style to women around the world, with Daniel’s great-great-granddaughter, Nadja on the executive board of directors. 

Swarovski heiress Victoria Swarovski, daughter of Paul and Alexandra Swarovski recently married in a custom made gown, adorned with 500,000 crystals.

Swarovski continues to dazzle us with Karlie Kloss as its current ambassador, along side Boy George, Ruby Rose, Chiara Ferragni, Jourdan Dunn, Fei Fei Sun, Anthony Mackie and Naomi Campbell.

Love Jenny & Team JG x