Crystal beads are a fascinating subject full of interesting facts. They have been around for hundreds of years, gaining more popularity with each decade. If you want to impress your friends or loved ones with facts about crystal beads, read on!
1. Glass & crystal beads first became a regularly manufactured product in the 1200s, with many small factories making glass beads. The turning point came in the 1500s when the glass industry became the leading industry in Stanovsko, Jablonec and Bedrichov, all major cities in today’s Czech Republic. At this point, crystal beading became very stylish and in demand.
2. True crystal beads were first made in the 1600s by George Ravenscroft of Venice, Italy. He discovered the formula that creates the clear sparkling shine, and patented it. When the patent expired, most of the major glass manufacturers began to use his formula.
3. The secret ingredient that gives crystals their shine is lead oxide, which is mixed with the glass. Light reflects off these particles, giving that signature sign that you don’t find in regular glass. The more lead oxide the crystal has, the shinier it gets.
4. Even though crystals have lead in them, it is at such a low level that it is not something to be concerned about. The lead would only become an issue if you frequently kept the crystals in your mouth for a long period of time. Crystal jewelry should also not be given to children or pets.
5. Daniel Swarovski (of Swarovski Crystals) introduced his crystal-cutting machine in 1892. His invention made mass production of crisp, sparkling crystals possible, which allowed everyday women to enjoy the look of precious gems at a lower price. In 1895 Swarovski founded the company and moved to Austria, where the factory could take advantage of water power. The Swarovski later branched out to chandeliers, figurines, and other home decorations.
6. While many companies throughout the world manufacture lead crystal items, such as Waterford Crystal of Ireland; Steuben Glass of the U.S. and Mikasa in Japan, true leaded glass or crystal beads are only made in Austria. Glass making is a very prominent industry in Austria, and brings in many tourists. Kristallwelten (Crystal World) is a Austrian crystal museum and is the second most-visited attraction in the country.
7. Crystal manufacturing changed yet again in 1995, with the invention of computer technology. This development made it possible to program the machinery used to cutting crystals to make crystal jewelry.
8. Each type of crystal and manufacturer uses a different amount of lead oxide. It differs from as low as 10% (Fine Crystal) to more than 25% (Fully leaded crystal). Swarovski mixes almost 34%, which makes it the heaviest crystal bead.
9. If your crystal jewelry becomes dull, just polish it with a soft cloth. Avoid using strong detergents, chemicals or hot water to clean your crystal beaded jewelry, as it could cause damage.
10. Crystals of all types are a great way to add sparkle to any project! Whether it’s a necklace, bracelet, earrings, or embellishment to a piece of clothing, using crystals is always a great idea.
Now that you know these facts, stock up on beautiful crystal beads for your next project. Whether you use them for jewelry making, décor, or something else, it’s sure to be exquisite!