Official Blog of the Tophatter Auction House
When most people think of the Swarovski, they think of things like figurines, glassware, chandeliers, red carpet dresses, and great costume jewelry. But, once you enter the world of jewelry making, people come face to face with another great option…Swarovski Elements! What are Swarovski Elements? According to their website, they are “the premium brand for the finest crystals manufactured by Swarovski.” This includes a huge variety of shapes, sizes, colors and finishes. There’s a joke amongst beaders that we’re all part magpie because of our attraction to sparkly things…and Swarovski’s crystals definitely have that effect on people.
However, there are also other types of crystals on the market that range from high-quality Czech crystals made by Preciosa to the sparkly but less well-made crystals coming out of China. As a consumer in the marketplace, it’s important to know that you’re spending your hard-earned money on the real deal. The brand name does make a difference in the price you’ll be paying, so it definitely benefits you to know what is what.
How DO you know if your supplier is selling you the real deal? Fire Mountain Gems has a great article about this topic and goes into some detail about some great things to look for when buying Swarovskis. One point that I’ve always heard from other beaders is that Swarovskis aren’t sold strung, so beads that are strung are likely NOT Swarovskis…or else someone has been putting in a lot of unnecessary time and effort. But, when you are buying online, what can you look for? Your best bet to insure the items you are purchasing are genuine is to make sure they are from a valid Swarovski distributor.
What does that mean to buyers on Tophatter? If you have concerns, the best thing to do is to ask the seller where they get their Swarovskis from. Swarovski’s website contains a list of their “Recommended Stores” around the world. That doesn’t mean that other shops are not valid Swarovski retailers…it just means that the shops listed “offer expert advice, a comprehensive service, a wide range of the latest Swarovski Elements and information about the most recent trends.” They often have great deals on their products, and I was pleased to see my favorite online Swarovski retailer on the list.
But, besides checking out Distributors to be sure they’re the real deal, an educated buyer is the best defense against impostors! What does the Create Your Style have to educate buyers? As an example, the link to the Xilion crystal, known to most as the Swarovski bicone. This is a great resource to see if you really CAN get a Xilion crystal (article #5328) in a specific color and a specific finish and a specific size. So, let’s say I wanted Palace Green Opal in a size 2.5mm. I can go to this site and check out whether or not that bead even exists. And, to my dismay, I would see that it’s only offered in a 3mm. Play with this link - you can click on other bead shapes to learn more about them and see what sizes and colors are available. There is also a link to a color chart - that way you can check on whether or not “sky blue” truly is a Swarovski color (please note, it’s not).
My final tip about Swarovskis is ASK. If someone is selling something that you’re not sure about, ask them about it. And Google it (or whatever search engine you prefer). There is such a thing as a custom coating for a Swarovski bead. That is when a wholesaler will buy the beads from Swarovski and apply an aftermarket finish to the beads. They can be quite spectacular and fun to work with…and sometimes hard to find, but you can find out almost anything when searching the internet these days. One place to find some examples of custom coats (or aftermarket finishes) is Bello Modo. Note that this is not an endorsement of the shop over any other - I linked it because they have special sections for their aftermarket finish beads.
Please check out these links and enjoy the sparkle! And feel free to contact me if you have any questions!
By Katie Nelson