Original vs. Imitation
Swarovski crystal is machine-cut, providing flawless consistency, and the rich color and captivating sparkle make any design unforgettable.
The Swarovski company creates its glass with a special compound that imitators cannot duplicate. This special compound creates the incredible brilliance of their product. The delicate color palette is another quality that sets Swarovski crystal components apart from others.
Here are some tips that can help you determine which crystals are genuine:
Swarovski crystals are perfectly uniform. Since they are machine cut, each crystal is the same. This means that the height, width and slope are consistent. A hand polished imitator bead will not have as uniform a cut. You may also notice different dimensions from bead to bead.
Swarovski uses machinery that precisely cuts each crystal. According to Swarovski , "cutting hard materials such as crystal and gems, in such a way that they have a hundred identical facets in several directions, is a very complicated task; each direction of the reflected light must first be calculated by computer, then this has to be simulated in 3D, optimized and finally converted into control programs for complex machinery." This is just part of the technology that gives Swarovski crystals their unbelievable flash.
The precision cutting of Swarovski machinery allows each crystal to have its facet juncture "pointing up". This means the facet junctures all meet at precisely the same point. This is a similar aspect of diamond faceting.
AB finish Swarovski crystals have a uniform surface luster. There are no swirling marks from the vacuum process that produces the AB finish, and generally there are no scratches. The "imitations" often have scratches, swirl marks ("oily" looking surface). Some of these imperfections, in the "imposters", have to do with the lower quality of the finish.
When you look inside the crystal, you will see no bubbles. If you see any bubbles, you know immediately that it is a fake.
Because of its special glass compounds, Swarovski crystal will out-sparkle a bead of lesser quality when placed in a side-by-side comparison.
* from one of my favourite beading supplier FiremountainGems&Beads - http://www.firemountaingems.com