Rumors have abounded in recent weeks about the potential elimination of many Swarovski Crystals, colors, or product lines. Manufactured in Austria since 1895, the Swarovski name has become symbolic for beautifully crafted, high-end crystal elements.
Over the past 125 years, the Swarovski Group has grown from producing just leaded-glass crystals (in 2012, the company ceased using lead in its production) and has expanded into various other markets. These include lighting and chandeliers, optics (binoculars and scopes), museum art, jewelry, road safety products, retail stores, and direct-to-consumer high-end jewelry.
What is happening to Swarovski in 2021?
A Bloomberg article from August 25, 2020, cites significant changes in the Swarovski Group as they go through a total business re-organization. From Swarovski’s perspective, these measures will allow the company to focus on its premium and more profitable markets.
Currently, Swarovski struggles with the relics of its tiered distribution system while facing competition from direct-to-consumer competitors. This multi-layered system of distributors costs more to maintain – which drives up the end price to the consumer – while also allowing many non-premium players to cloud Swarovski’s brand.
The restructuring of Swarovski will take several years, and many details have yet to be disclosed. However, various international distributors in the bead markets have cited announcements directly from the company.
The announcements indicate a significant reduction in the distribution and production of crystal beads and components. At a minimum, Swarovski will likely limit the scope of its crystal distribution through current channels
What Does This Mean For Me?
At PotomacBeads, we don’t know what will happen to Swarovski crystals and Swarovski elements in the coming years. Industry insiders have been predicting a significant change in Swarovski’s business model for several years. For that reason, we have chosen to invest in alternative lines of crystals for beading and jewelry-making.
Swarovski Alternatives in 2021
Swarovski has had global rivals in crystal production for many years. Today, that competition comes from crystal manufacturers in the Czech Republic, China, United States, Egypt, and more. So which crystal brands and Swarovski alternatives should you be investigating in 2021?
PotomacBeads began producing Potomac Crystals as an affordable yet premium alternative to the high Swarovski component prices. Each Potomac Crystal shape’s dimensions perfectly match jewelry-making patterns that call for Swarovski crystals.
Potomac Crystals come in dozens of different Potomac Crystal shapes and sizes and produced hundreds of free jewelry-making tutorials using top-rated Potomac Crystals.
If you love crystal bicones, round beads, rondelles, Rivoli, ovals, drops, cylinders, or cushions, then you will love Potomac Crystals.
While the future of popular crystal shapes like Swarovski Bicones and Rounds seems to be murky, our goal is to continually produce more Potomac Crystal styles and colors for you each year. As Swarovski potentially phases out some of their shapes and color selection, Potomac Crystals will add more.
Already, you can find a growing number of new Potomac Crystal colors in the most popular crystal shapes — Bicones (Shape #5328), Round Beads (Shape #5000), and Rondelle Beads (Shape #5040).
Currently AVailable Potomac Crystals
Preciosa crystals have been produced for many years and have been a leading competitor of Swarovski. Like Potomac Crystal, Preciosa crystals offer a very high-quality glass while also representing a lower price point to consumers.
Unfortunately, Preciosa doesn’t offer anywhere near the same variety of shapes and cuts. Some of Preciosa’s products, like the rivoli, also differ ever so slightly in size. This can sometimes mean modifying patterns to accommodate those differences. Also, Preciosa offers fewer base crystal colors than Swarovski, but they do offer hundreds of varieties of colors, including many vacuum coatings.
There are several Chinese factories producing crystals in a wide range of quality. The crystals’ caliber can vary significantly from substandard and seriously flawed crystals to a quality steadily approaching high-end, famous crystal makers like Swarovski. Since a majority of Chinese crystals are manufactured for mass markets, like chain craft and big-box stores, they tend to be the lowest quality and usually come with significant flaws. So, if you choose to use mass-market Chinese crystals, be careful! You never quite know what quality you will get, and they can take months to arrive, barring they don’t get lost in transit!
The higher-end Chinese crystals are generally sold through private companies who travel to Asia to scour the country for the best quality and develop a personal relationship with makers. Developing personal relationships with the factories cuts out the middleman – which means lower prices for you and ensures the highest quality.
LOOKING TO 2021 & BEYOND
In conclusion, which crystals will you be using in the future? It’s hard to tell with the ever-evolving jewelry-making market. Hopefully, all Swarovski crystal shapes & cuts will not be disappearing forever. Still, we want to prepare you with information that can help you make an informed choice on alternative crystals for your creations.
We are here to support you and your designs, help you grow creatively, and keep you well stocked with all things beads and jewelry-making in the ever-changing world.