Swarovski and Preciosa

Without a doubt, Swarovski® makes the best crystal beads around.  They sparkle like no other and each one is perfect.  In my handmade jewelry creations, I use predominantly all Swarovski® crystal beads.  However, once in a while I do use Preciosa crystal beads or Czech crystal glass beads to help keep the cost down for my customers.  In my listings on Etsy, I always specify whether the crystals being used are Swarovski®, Preciosa or Czech crystal.  I’ll admit that there was a time when I used Swarovski® beads exclusively because of their brilliant sparkle that is absolutely breathtaking, but some customers with a tighter budget have asked for my pieces using the alternate crystal beads.  Granted, the pieces are still quite beautiful, but nothing shines like Swarovski® beads.

Swarovski® (pronounced Swore-off-ski….I know some people who say “Sa-wor-skee” or “S-wor-skee” and it drives me batty!) crystal components are regarded as the highest quality machine cut and polished crystal beads in the world.

The Swarovski® company creates its glass with a special compound that imitators cannot duplicate. This special compound creates the incredible brilliance of their product. The delicate color palette is another quality that sets Swarovski® crystal components apart from others.

How To Tell If It’s Swarovski®

  • Swarovski® crystals are generally not strung when offered for sale.
    • Look for the original Swarovski® packaging. Dependant on size, the bulk packages will range from 10 gross to 1/2 gross, in well-branded, sealed envelopes.
      • The newest Swarovski® bulk packaging is sealed with an authenticated silver toned hologram saying “CRYSTALLIZED.”
  • Swarovski® crystals are perfectly uniform. Since they are machine cut, each crystal is the same. This means that the height, width and slope are consistent.
    • A hand polished imitator bead will not have as uniform a cut. You may also notice different dimensions from bead to bead.
  • Swarovski® uses machinery that precisely cuts each crystal. According to Swarovski®, “cutting hard materials such as crystal and gems, in such a way that they have a hundred identical facets in several directions, is a very complicated task; each direction of the reflected light must first be calculated by computer, then this has to be simulated in 3D, optimized and finally converted into control programs for complex machinery.” This is just part of the technology that gives Swarovski® crystals their unbelievable flash.
  • The precision cutting of Swarovski® machinery allows each crystal to have its facet juncture “pointing up”. This means the facet junctures all meet at precisely the same point. This is a similar aspect of diamond faceting.
  • AB finish Swarovski® crystals have a uniform surface luster. There are no swirling marks from the vacuum process that produces the AB finish, and generally there are no scratches.
    • The “imitations” often have scratches, swirl marks (“oily” looking surface). Some of these imperfections, in the “imposters”, have to do with the lower quality of the finish.
  • When you look inside the crystal, you will see no bubbles. If you see any bubbles, you know immediately that it is a fake.

Because of its special glass compounds, Swarovski® crystal will out-sparkle a bead of lesser quality when placed in side-by-side comparison.


Until now, lead has been a necessary component in the creation of ultra-clear, glittering crystals, but Swarovski® has underlined its position as a market leader by creating something called “Advanced Crystal”. This brand new composition provides the same sparkle, dependability, and variety that Swarovski® is famous for – without the lead.

Thanks to ADVANCED CRYSTAL, not only are Swarovski® crystals compliant with regulatory industry norms and laws regarding the restriction or prohibition of certain substances for finished products in the most relevant segments of its customers (jewelry, textile), but they are also proof of Swarovski’s® long-standing reputation as a socially responsible corporate role model.

ADVANCED CRYSTAL – Superior – Brilliant – Lead-Free* *Crystal glass and all other materials containing 0.009 % lead or less.

But Swarovski® isn’t the only crystal bead manufacturer who has gone lead-free.  Based on customer demand, Preciosa® has introduced its Maxima high quality lead-free crystal component line.  MAXIMA’s lead-free crystal (lead content < 0.009%) has a refractive index of 1.585 and is made with the unique Hi-Pure Crystal™ technology. As a result, its optical properties are fully comparable to full-lead crystal.

Swarovski® vs. Preciosa®

Preciosa® crystal is the closest thing you are going to come to in comparison with Swarovski®.    However, Swarovski® does have a bit more clarity and shine to it.  Swarovski® crystal comes from Austria while Preciosa® comes from the Czech Republic, not that this fact should make a difference on deciding which to purchase.  I have noticed that a bit more care must be taken when working with Preciosa® crystal, as it is slightly more delicate.