Is this the dance of a dying swan – Swarovski?
The news is official.
From June 2021 Swarovski will close ALL customer accounts. Worldwide. They will be focusing on their accessories and clothing/fashion divisions. They will be keeping only a very few distributors to service those remaining customers who have applied to become Approved Businesses who create and manufacture products using Swarovski. However, those customers must agree not to use terms such as “embellished with crystals from Swarovski”.
No retail or wholesale packs are available and they have completely withdrawn Swarovski® Crystal Components (their individual stones and beads developed for retail, DIY and nails) so are they are therefore no longer available to anyone.
Swarovski's new CEO Robert Buchbauer made the decision with backing from the board and stated that this step "should have been taken years ago". Interestingly, he also stated: “Swarovski crystals on a 10-euro T-shirt don’t add to our profitability and hurt our brand image.” [quote: Bloomberg].
Now we have always known that Swarovski have been, shall we say, "elitist", limiting stockists and keeping their prices high not because their quality justifies it, but because their name demands it. In fact Mr Buchbauer thinks the entry prices for any Swarovski item should be raised to €60.
Swarovski is Austrian Crystal. Preciosa is Czech Crystal (Bohemian Crystal). They grew from the crystal valley and they are both the highest quality crystals, world class and distinguishable from each other only by their own colour creations and shapes.
You will probably have seen the Swarovski shops across Britain. If you had the fortune to visit Prague, for example, you would be blown away by the Preciosa flagship stores where they sell their own products. Stunning lighting designs, chandeliers, jewellery - items of equal to (or some might argue superior to) any Swarovski design.
It is a shame these two names, who have been around for centuries, are pitted against each other. They are effectively two sides of the same coin - and rooted in similar history. "Brothers" if you like. Then again, family do tend to fall out.
On the one hand, marketing on two sides of the iron curtain made a huge difference to awareness - and on the other, people assume you pay more because it's "better". I'd rather pay a costumier for a bespoke, made-to-measure design than pay a "name" for their label.
WE love Swarovski and have always sold Swarovski where available or when required and shall be sad to see this side of their business go. It is not the end of the world, though.
We continue to champion Preciosa and are proud to remain an Authorised Partner working with them. Although the pandemic has affected all of us, and changes are being made to their ranges, we will continue to provide you with spectacular sparkle at sensible prices.
It is likely that regions/countries will be "phased out" as opposed to stock ceasing overnight. Certainly we have had sight of several emails from current suppliers announcing the discontinuance of their supply with immediate effect. Where Swarovski intend to become "more exclusive" it doesn't make them "better".
Rhinestones Online will continue to spread quality sparkle far and wide.
We will not be dipping into the cheap Chinese market of acrylic (plastic) stones. Although improved dramatically over the years, their Grade A glass stone is not reliable in terms of shape or quality of glue and extremely cheap Grade B options flooding Amazon, Ebay etc are terribly inconsistent with an abundance of defects in every batch.
We are saddened and a little shocked by the decision, but the world is a different place since we entered 2020 and businesses must do what they feel is right to survive and go forward. We wish the Swarovski family a successful transition allowing the company to thrive for many years to come.
We remain strong advocates of Preciosa - not because we are an Authorised Partner. Not at all. As the owner of Rhinestones Online, my passion for rhinestones began over 30 years ago when I obtained some transfers from America for a wedding dress (I've always had a thing for Dolly Parton and rhinestoned cowboys ). Then my mother began collecting Swarovski ornaments. I openly admit I became a "Swarovksi snob". That changed the moment I discovered Preciosa and was blown away by the quality. They were incomparable. The only difference I could see with the naked eye was their contrasting AB finishes - and I much preferred Preciosa's. That sealed it for me and I switched loyalties.
The added bonus to this was the savings I made not paying Swarovski's prices.
Years later with much more knowledge available and having tested hundreds and hundreds of stones from around the world, I still appreciate the beauty of both brands. Austrian crystal is truly exceptional. As is Bohemian crystal. It will be a sad day to lose this part of them.
We are also working with another company of high repute to bring a fourth level price band, with high sparkle - and have recreated some of the Swarovski colours that will inevitably by missed. As a company we provide options for various budgets and projects from producers of bespoke cards to theatrical productions, from mass tee-shirt production to incredible catwalk creations.
We will continue to adapt, put the customer first and provide exceptional service. That also means keeping you in the loop whenever we can. Onwards and upwards!
Rhinestones Online International Limited