Wednesday, January 16, 2013

What's the Deal with the Crystal?

Before I started making jewelry, I really didn't know a lot about the different components that make up a piece of jewelry. I've learned about things like jump rings and chandeliers. I've learned about tools such as the chain nose pliers, the round nose pliers, and the mandrel. No, that's not Barbara Mandrell for those of you old enough to remember the country singer.
She was country when country wasn't cool!

I've also learned about the various materials used in jewelry making. I know the difference between silver plated and silver filled. I know I can't afford to make much out of gold. And I've learned about the difference in crystals.

No not Crystal Gayle, another country singer from back in the day.

Now you know me; I can't have information without sharing it with the world, so let's talk about crystals. I always thought crystal was only important to new age gurus who needed crystals to channel their chakra...or something.
Or maybe they use them to direct their Chi....whatever.
Crystals occur in nature, but they can also be man made. When we're looking at crystal jewelry, we see both natural and man made crystals. Swarovski, headquartered in Austria, is widely recognized as the maker of the finest quality man made crystal.

Jewelry made with Swarovski crystal has a brilliance and sparkle unlike any other. Swarovski meticulously and precisely cuts each crystal, achieving the perfect shape, angle and placement of each facet. 
Blue Briolette Cut Swarovski Crystal Drops.
I wasn't sure when I started what the difference between crystal and glass was. Was crystal just a fancy word for glass? Was it a particular cut of glass? As it turns out, man made crystal is glass with lead oxide added to it. It's the lead oxide that gives crystal its sparkle by...well, it's some scientific technical jargon about "a higher index of refraction." Trust me. Crystal sparkles more than glass, and Swarovski is the sparkliest of them all.

So, what do you think? Did you learn anything, or was I the only one who didn't know any of this?