The magic of Swarovski crystals

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If you ever get a chance to go to Ireland, take the Waterford Crystal tour. They also have a lot of useless dreck, but if you like foundries, mills, hand made craftsman, and bitchin tools it is an excellent use of your time.

Yeah, they freehand cut them. Every. Single. One.


Wow, very phallic at first glance.(the top one)

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I never got the magic of those. Yeah they are pretty tchotchkes but they always seemed kinda tacky to me. Nice earrings made out of them or something to catch the light I can see but the whole crystal kittycat type thing, meh not so much.


$640 for a glass snail? Fellow consumers, I just don’t get you–that’s like a fifth of a Super Duper Gold Foil Electroplated Stereo Cable!


Waterford is out of business. The factory is shut down AFAIK, and the brand is now owned by a chinese concern. They slap the name on cheap glassware. Shannon and Galway crystal are still going.

In other news a cousin of mine used to work at the factory. Fixing the machines that actually blew the glass. Contrary to the tour, none of it was actually hand blown. Though it was hand cut.

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Huh, I was there 14 months ago.


Okay, bankruptcy in 2009, but they emerged and relocated. I saw the new factory, and it is doing great. I wouldn’t be surprised if they contract from chinese manufacturers, but they still had at least thirty cutters working and a dozen people manning the furnaces.

It is now owned by a Finnish company.

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So we’re talking art glass, huh? I’m actually a big fan of the old Fenton stuff. I don’t collect it but if I were to do a collectible item, that’d be it. I just like the feel of it - not every piece they did but there are a few I really like.

This guy is a family friend.

As for crystals, they have their place. If you want something sparkly, it’s better than conflict diamonds. Or diamonds of any sort, really. I’ll take sapphires and rubies any day.


I think I have a pair of Waterford crystal whisky glasses somewhere. Or maybe Dartington? I definitely have a Dartington crystal tankard.

When I say ‘have’ I mean ‘left in a box at my parents’.


I need this.


For all the kitsch, they do make a gangbuster sniper scope.


Interesting article, but it perpetuates a longstanding urban legend:

Glass is not a crystal; as science teachers like to say, glass is a particular type of liquid

Glass is not a liquid. It’s an amorphous solid — a solid whose molecular matrix is connected chaotically, rather than in regular crystalline arrays — but a solid nonetheless.

If your science teacher tells you glass is a liquid, you need a better science teacher.

(And, no, window glass doesn’t sag over the centuries. Crown glass, which preceded plate glass, was cut from a circle of glass formed by snipping open the tip of a blown-glass bubble, and then spinning the blowpipe to form a circular sheet. Pieces cut from that sheet were frequently of tapering thickness, and glaziers often set those pieces with the thicker edge downward.)


Yep, the bling probably accounts for the bulk of their profits, but they are renowned for their binoculars and sports optics, among the best in the world with Leica, Zeiss and Nikon. I’d love to get a pair of Swarovision EL 8.5x42 but the $2,300 price tag is a deterrent.

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Swarovski has a terrific museum, at their factory just outside of Innsbruck. Artists seem to have been given a free hand to use the crystals in any way they wanted. The one I liked the best was called “Jim Whiting’s Mechanical Theater,” which includes three pairs of legs that danced to very weird music. Unfortunately, videos of it online don’t do it justice, but here’s one: The legs boogie at about 2:00.

The shirts on the moving clotheslines were embroidered with crystals, but AFAIK that was the only connection to the company.

The magic of Swarovski crystals sounds quite similar to the magic of diamonds - lots of marketing, and the fact that some of us can’t resist a shiny bauble


Sure, but also:


one of my favorite craft demonstrations at the renfest near us, scarbourough faire, is the glassblower. he makes some exquisite pieces.

Ah that must be fairly recent. I would suspect it’s more of tourist concern than anything. My uble (in Waterford) Has been a Waterford dealer for 60 some odd years. We won’t sell anything carrying the Waterford name anymore, switched to Shannon after the bankruptcy. But I guess we’ll see. A lot of moves over there to resuscitate or expand old businesses. There’s a Tulamore Dew distillery in Tulamore for the first time since the 60s.

Me too – especially one with a shih-tzu etching.