Inspecting Swarovski crystal figurines

Condition is everything

The phrase that all collectors take to heart applies particularly to Swarovski crystal.

One of the qualities that separate Swarovski decorative items from those of other manufacturers is the cut crystal designs found in their Silver Crystal collection and related product groups. The cut facets optimize the light refracting properties of each object, enhancing its brilliance and aesthetic appeal. The popularity of Swarovski figurines started gaining momentum in the early 1980's and since, has spawned a global community of collectors as well as casual buyers.

Such a vast customer base means Swarovski figurines, sculptures, and decorative accessories are produced in very large numbers, making the condition of a crystal piece, no matter how old, critically important in determining its resale value.

Original packaging, paperwork, and accessories

Swarovski collectors care not only about condition of the crystal itself, but also the original box, padding, and any accessories included with the piece as it came from the factory. When buying or selling Swarovski, you should know what elements must be present for the article to be complete. As of the second half of 2011, Swarovski no longer includes with their Silver Crystal and related products the familiar blue Certificate booklet (often called the Certificate of Authenticity or COA). In its place, there should be a white multi-language Warning booklet.

Certain accessories may not matter as much as others. For example, few collectors will make an issue of not having wax tabs to go with a candleholder, whereas a missing outer box (sleeve) would affect the value or desirability of an item.

Checking the crystal for damage

With hundreds of facets, edges, and points in a typical design, inspecting a piece of Swarovski crystal requires great care and focus. It would be unwise to assume that a piece that has remained practically untouched for years inside a display cabinet is necessarily in perfect condition. Chances are it's been picked up, rearranged, dusted, and cleaned at one time or another, and could have suffered damage without anybody remembering such incident.

A high number of online listings are posted by resellers who have little or no experience handling Swarovski crystal. I think everyone would benefit if the crystal could be thoroughly and competently examined prior to changing hands.

  1. Wear gloves and clean the piece before inspecting it. Flaws are harder to detect when the crystal is dirty and dull.
  2. Work near a bright light source.
  3. You may elect to use a loupe if that works for you. I'm not a jeweler and am not used to magnifying glasses, which seem to restrict my field of vision, like looking through a camera's viewfinder. The limited focus area can cause you to miss something you would have caught with the naked eye.
  4. Hold the crystal to the light and slowly turn it to check the object from all angles. You should make sure every facet reflects the light as illustrated in the picture on the left, with all edges and points looking sharp and clearly defined.
  5. Watch for "fleabites," chips, nicks, and scratches. Some defects can be hard to identify, such as the chip in the picture below, right (curved white outline). If you're unsure, gently run a fingernail over the area and feel for surface irregularities.

Reminder – Knowing what to look for is the easy part. Some people have an eye for this sort of quality inspection; others don't. Either way, remember that if a flaw goes undetected, it's always the next person inspecting the piece who finds it.

Checking the crystal for authenticity

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The above text authored by Copyright © 2013

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