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Daniel Swarovski: An Innovative Genius

Nov 1, 2007
In the Nineteenth century, Bohemia, in the Austro-Hungarian Empire was one of the most important manufacturing centers for both glass and lead crystal. It was here that Daniel Swarovski was born in 1862, the son of the owner of a small crystal-cutting factory.

Daniel whiled away his childhood years by watching, in amazement, the workers in his father's factory, skillfully working the lead crystal blanks into things of beauty.

By the age of 21, having completed his crystal cutting apprenticeship by working at his father's business and at other crystal-cutting shops, he ventured to Vienna, Austria, where the "1. Elektrische Ausstellung": the first-ever electrical exhibition was being held. Having seen electrical machines developed by others, including Edison, he left there inspired to develop an electrically powered crystal-cutting machine. It took him nine years, working day and night to achieve, but by 1892 he had registered his patent.

In addition to saving a vast amount of time, his machine enabled the skilled crystal-cutters to achieve uniformity and accuracy that was, up until that time, impossible to imagine.

Three years later, a much larger operation was required and, after joining forces with Franz Weis and Armand Kosmann, a new factory was opened in the Austrian Tyrol town of Wattens. This major shift in location was brought about by three factors: a) the company needed power and lots of it; the Alpine streams gave them unlimited power to drive their generators. b) They needed to move far away from the prying eyes of their bohemian competitors to avoid imitation of their unique designs and c) with its superior rail links, working from Wattens ensured that their wares could be shuttled straight from the factory to Paris, the fashion capital of Europe, where their jewelry was in huge demand.

By 1908, Daniel had been joined by his three sons: Wilhelm, Fredrich and Alfred and the company expanded once more. This time by the building of ovens specially designed to create the crystal from its raw materials. Up until this time, all of their crystal had been purchased ready-made and then cut and finished in Wattens. However, to enable much stricter quality control, the crystal simply had to be made in-house. It took around five years of tinkering but, eventually, by 1913, the ovens and mixture were refined to a point where they were turning out near-perfect lead crystal.

This was a major turning point for Swarovski. Their flawless crystal jewelry became much sought after by the Parisian jewelers and fashion houses in addition to demand from further a field. The company rose to this challenge and started to mass-produce its lead crystal on a grand scale. Establishing it as a force to be reckoned with in the lead crystal-manufacturing world.

In 1935, Wilhelm, following the family tradition of innovation, registered a patent on a pair of binoculars. These were marketed under the brand name of "Habicht" and were the company's main source of income through World War II. By 1949 the Habicht name was given up in favor of Swarovski Optic. Today, their lenses are second to none in the world of precision optical instruments.

Since that time, almost a century ago, Swarovski's attention to constant improvement has kept them at the pinnacle of their craft and their name is still, to this day, synonymous with crystal of the highest quality and un-paralleled beauty.

Over the years their range of goods has expanded and now includes rhinestones, vases, stemware, picture frames, sculptures and chandeliers, the list goes on. And the company's attention to detail and quality is as high now as it was a century ago when Daniel was at the helm.
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For more information about Swarovski and other crystal manufacturers, please visit our crystal stemware website by clicking here
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