From wedding gowns encrusted in blinding crystals to skulls with added bling by Alexander McQueen, Swarovski is the brand who made the world wonder: Are diamonds really a girl’s best friend? While a kiss may be grand, it won’t pay the rental on your humble flat. Diamonds won’t either, come to think of it. But swapping them for crystals would definitely give you enough leftover budget to prevent you from getting evicted.
Known to our grandparents as the poor man’s diamond or imitation jewellery, crystals have not had the easiest road to luxury. However, nowadays hearing the words “carefully embellished with thousands of Swarovski crystals” makes us think of lavishness, indulgence and not necessarily attainability.
Achieving such a shift in consumer thinking and behaviour is no straight-forward task. It seems to me that Nadja Swarovski has accomplished the seemingly impossible. This is why it has been a privilege to sit in one room with her, fashion journalism legend Colin McDowell and V&A Director Martin Roth.
Soft spoken, approachable and wonderfully business-minded, Nadja chatted about her life in the family business and the brand’s mission to make the world sparkle. In my view, Swarovski doesn’t necessarily do that by selling jewellery and keepsakes. I think the biggest sparkler the brand brings to the world is the platform it provides for young talent to shine via Swarovski’s numerous sponsorships and collaborations. Without Swarovski’s initiatives, a great number of fashion brands and artist names wouldn’t survive in an already saturated market; some wouldn’t even see the light of day in the first place.
Swarovski has also brought a plethora of high-end brands closer to the cash-strapped consumer by partnering with them on collections or limited edition pieces. Suddenly owning a piece by Viktor&Rolf or Alexander McQueen isn’t that cuckoo of a thought for those with tightened belts and the aforementioned rent bill looming over their heads.
Whatever our budgets are, most of us have a Swarovski-related memory, be it an impulse buy at the airport three minutes before the flight or a weightier, more thought-through purchase.
Mine is my father getting me an insanely sparkly Swarovski chocker for my 18th birthday. I chose it over one made of 14k (also known as “Russian“) rose gold. Sometimes I look back and kick myself for opting for the costume piece as opposed to the gold necklace the price of which keeps on rising. I guess at that moment I wasn’t looking for an investment. I just needed my world to sparkle.
Thank you once again to the V&A for having me.