You already know that crystals - and especially Swarovski crystals - are a cut above plain old regular glass. But why?
Glass is made by melting silica, the main ingredient in sand. This can occur naturally when lightening strikes sand, and the result is called fulgurite. But fulgurite is quite ugly, just a metallic blue-grey colored lumpy thing.
|Fulgurite - Ugly!|
Through the next few centuries glass making ebbed and flowed as some cultures perfected the art while others seemed to have lost interest and then rediscovered it.
|The Crystal Palace, London, 1851|
Lead crystal is actually a form of glass and not technically a crystal in the scientific sense, but it has always been called lead crystal because the crystal-like brilliance and sparkle outshines ordinary glass. (Natural rock crystal is pretty but extremely brittle and difficult to work with.)
Within a few years glasshouses were producing glass and lead crystal all over Europe. It was so popular in Europe that England imposed a glass tax in 1746. It worked as an income tax, since the wealthy purchased more glass than lower classes. The glass tax was repealed in 1845, and just as tax-free glass was becoming affordable for the masses the 1851 London Great Exposition was held in the Crystal Palace. The Crystal Palace was a built of cast iron and large sheets of cheap but strong glass that created astonishing clear walls and ceilings the likes of which had never been seen.
|Daniel Swarovski's Electric Crystal Cutting Machine, 1892|
During World War I Swarovski used his expertise with precision cutting to help the war effort, and a branch of the company continued in the same direction after the war. In 1935 Daniel's son Wilhelm, an amateur astronomer, produced a prototype pair of binoculars, and today Swarovski Optik designs binoculars, hunting rifle scopes, and photography equipment.
|The Shine Collection|
And that's why Swarovski crystals truly are not just a cut above the rest, but a precision cut above the rest!
Happy Knitting (and beading!) . . . . Scout