Many of you may already have heard a lot of chatter and rumor about the possibility Swarovski will soon stop making their iconic crystals. This will undoubtedly impact resellers and jewelry makers everywhere, and especially those who design tutorials and sell kits. 
Fire Mountain Gems, as a large distributor, has been in touch with Swarovksi. In their latest newsletter, they said, "We do know Swarovski is streamlining the global distribution of their components division. The good news is Swarovski plans to maintain a limited number of affiliate distributors resulting in much closer partnerships. What this means for all of us is that Swarovski will be discontinuing a large amount of their product offerings by the end of 2020. They have assured us we will be able to purchase and supply Swarovski crystals to you through September 2021."

Sam Wescott of Wescott Jewelry shared several mentions from other distributors in her blog post.

So what happened to make Swarovski lose its business sparkle?  

This family owned company, founded way back in 1895, has been in a tight corner for some years as it struggled to adapt to changing consumer tastes and global competition. The pandemic made things worse - 3,000 Swarovski boutiques in near empty malls.  Revenues have fallen by a third this year. Their main historic manufacturing plant is also floundering. The company is in the process of reorganizing, shedding some 6,000 jobs or 20% of their workforce so far.

According to Bloomberg, the new CEO Robert Buchbauer, himself a member of the dynasty, is trying to push through plans to make the company slimmer by shrinking low margin mass market products and shift focus to more profitable ones.  The turnaround plan is expected to take a few years. Not all the family are in agreement but Buchbauer is likely to prevail. He believes these steps are necessary for the long term survival of the company.  
“It’s very painful for everybody, but we have to take the steps that we should have taken years ago,” said Buchbauer, 54. In the future, Swarovski will focus on higher quality products with unique designs rather than trying to offer everything for everybody, he said. “Swarovski crystals on a 10-euro T-shirt don’t add to our profitability and hurt our brand image.”
So if all goes to plan, we are going to see a greatly reduced range of loose crystals and beads after next year or so and from far fewer distributors. What that limited range remains to be seen.  

Apart from that Swarovski name, we will not be out of our crystal staples.  Their competitors are sure to fill the void once Swarovski withdraws from the craft market. And offer lower price points.  

I can see 3 main sources of crystals as we go forward :

The Czech based Preciosa already produces a wide variety of great beads including these beautiful light amethyst AB bicones available from SussmansSupplyCo on Etsy.   

The Chinese manufacturers whose crystals are available from many vendors are also in the game.  They too produce good crystals which are difficult to tell apart from Swarovski crystals with the naked eye.  I compared them using the macro function of my iPhone. The crystals below are slightly different tones of blue but can you tell which is which?

The Swarvoski bicone is the one above left. 

I also took another photo with clear crystals. The Swarvoski is the one with the AB finish on the left. The Chinese crystals appear a little wider at the top and bottom but otherwise the faceting is similar.
So if you have favourite patterns you use again and again or if you are a tutorial designer, do check to make sure your patterns still work with substitutes or else they may need some adjustment.

At a normal viewing range, the Chinese crystals below are just as sparkly as the Swarvoski ones in my collection.

Chinese made crystals

The third source of crystals will likely be real Swarovski crystals hoarded by beadaholics everywhere! Yes, you!  I can see many putting up their Swarovskis for sale in the coming months!  I might well be one of those as I have some which are no longer of use to me. 

Is having Swarovski products important to you? Or are alternatives okay? Do you plan to stock up in the coming months? 

Please leave your comments below.

H/T to Aims of BigBlueBarnDesigns  

I used  my iPhone 8+ for final product photography in natural light. I used  the Orangemonkie studio which comes equipped with LED lights - for artificial light photography in my windowless basement studio. The Foldio2 Plus is excellent . I use the Foldio3 because I need the room for tutorial photography. 

My online class Easy Guide to Smartphone Jewelry Photography is now available. Read more about it here.  

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 This blog may contain affiliate links. I do receive a small fee for any products purchased through affiliate links. This goes towards the support of this blog and to provide resource information to readers. The opinions expressed are solely my own. They would be the same whether or not I receive any compensation. 
Original Post by THE BEADING GEM