How to Date Your Vintage Crystal Beads with Guest Blogger Suzanne Branca

Suzanne Branca is the owner of A Grain of Sand

Of all the crystal beads out there in the wide, wide world, I think I love vintage crystal the best. Maybe it's the history behind it — I'm such a history geek — or maybe it's the sense that these beads have seen things that I can only dream about, but I'm a sucker for vintage crystal beads.

That said, sometimes it's hard to figure out if the beads you're buying really are vintage. After all, some vintage crystal beads have a very modern look to them. Lucky for me, my friend Suzanne Branca over at A Grain of Sand also has a soft spot for those little lovelies, and she's got some great advice for us on how to date our vintage crystal beads!

How can I tell how old vintage Swarovski Crystals are? Let's take the mystery out of it. . . .shall we? I have asked this same question myself during my quest for vintage Swarovski crystals. With the help of several people that have been in the jewelry business long before I started, I have compiled this information to share.

The first thing to look at is whether or not the crystal has been finished with the glamorous Aurora Borealis crystal effect. This was invented in 1956 in cooperation with Christian Dior. With this simple fact you will know that all crystals that have the AB finish cannot be any older than 1956.

Looking at the manufacturer packaging also helps to date these beautiful crystal beads. Here are some examples of Swarovksi crystal packaging from over the years, taken from our stock at A Grain of Sand:

This Swarovski crystal bead packaging is what the company used before 1949.
Between 1950 and 1969, this was the standard company packaging for Swarovski crystal beads and components.
Between 1970 and 1980, the Swarovski company packaging changed very little.
In the 1980's, the Swarovski company adopted this style of packaging with no logo.
Crystal beads produced by the Swarovski company after 2006 were packaged in small grey boxes with their new blue swan logo.
Finally, in 2007, they changed their packaging yet again to the current design.

Looking for tags and trademarks on  your strands of Swarovski crystal beads is also another useful way to estimate the age of the beads. Here are some other useful Swarovski Tags and Trademarks that may help identify Swarovski crystal beads and crystals. Certain designers requested Swarovski crystal beads be prestrung to meet specific requirements.

Here are some more examples:

This strand has graduated black diamond crystals all prestrung and ready for designer manufacturing.
This hank of rose montees has a tag attached to it that is very useful for dating the crystals. In 1919 The brand name "Tyrolit" was first registered. Wattens is the small town to which Daniel Swarovski moved his operation around this time.

Part of the fun of buying vintage crystal beads is using them in classic, modern beaded jewelry designs! One of my favorite beading resources for crystal bead jewelry projects is Create Jewelry: Crystals by Jamie Hogsett and Marlene Blessing. Not only does it have pages and pages of amazing, beautiful, and innovative crystal bead jewelry-making projects mixed with fascinating facts and the history of the Swarovski company. Get your copy of Create Jewelry: Crystals now during the Season of Savings and save up to 70%!

Bead Happy,


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